Two trucking fleets on Thursday reported increases in their first quarter net income compared to the same time a year earlier.

Marten Transport Ltd. recorded a 25.8% increase in profit, totaling $10.3 million, or 19 cents per share, for the period, compared to $8.2 million, or 15 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2017. 

Revenue for the Wisconsin-based refrigerated hauler improved 8% to $187 million from $173.2 million for the first quarter of 2017. Excluding fuel surcharges, operating revenue improved 4.7% to $163.8 million.

The company said the increase in profit was primarily due to the reduction of its federal income tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“We improved our revenue excluding fuel surcharges in our dedicated and intermodal operations, our primary growth areas for this year, by 17.6% over the first quarter of 2017,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Randolph "Randy" Marten. "We expect to deliver revenue and profitability growth throughout 2018 with increased compensation for our premium services, additional freight with existing and new customers, and our continued emphasis on cost controls."

Marten noted that during the quarter, company agreements with a number of customers included a shift between linehaul and fuel surcharge revenue, which reduced its dedicated and truckload revenue, net of fuel surcharges, by $106 and $13 per tractor per week, respectively, while increasing its fuel surcharge revenue by the same amounts.

Marten said it's currently expanding and was operating with 1,376 dry trailers operating as of March 31. It had 5,308 total trailers compared to 4,955 a year earlier. Its tractor fleet at the end of the first quarter totaled 2,785 compared to 2,827 at the end of the 2017 first quarter.

Werner Profit Grows to Nearly $28 Million

Nebraska-headquartered truckload carrier Werner Enterprises Inc. reported an even bigger increase in its net income, rising 74% in the first quarter versus the same time a year ago, totaling $27.8 million.

Earnings per share increased by a similar margin from 22 cents a year 38 cents.

Total revenue moved 12% higher to $562.7 million, while revenue minus fuel surcharges increased 10% to $364.2 million.

According to the company, first quarter 2018 freight demand in its truckload fleet was much stronger than normal for period.

“Demand was consistently strong each month of first quarter 2018 and was broad-based geographically. Freight volumes thus far in April 2018 continue to be much stronger than normal,” Werner said in a statement.

Average revenues per tractor per week increased 6.8% in first quarter 2018 compared to first quarter 2017 due to a 10% increase in average revenues per total mile.That was partially offset by a 2.9% decrease in average miles per truck, according to Werner.

“The increase in average revenues per total mile was due primarily to higher contractual rates, more freight choices with higher rates, and lane mix change,” the company said

Werner said it ended first quarter 2018 with 7,385 trucks in its truckload segment, a year-over-year increase of 205 trucks and a decrease of 50 trucks from the previous quarter.

The company’s dedicated unit ended first quarter 2018 with 4,030 trucks (or 55% of its total truckload segment fleet) compared to 3,710 trucks at the end of first quarter 2017, as the company said it added several new dedicated fleet customers.