USA Truck, Inc., Van Buren, AR, suffered a first quarter loss it says was due largely to high fuel prices. The truckload fleet had record operating revenues of $55.1 million, up 52.3% from $36.2 million for the same quarter of 1999. But net income decreased 117.0% to a loss of $394,385, compared to a profit of $2.3 million for the first quarter of 1999.
Robert M. Powell, president and CEO, said, "We are extremely pleased with our revenue growth. However, our diesel cost per gallon for the quarter increased 50.3%. The after-tax effect of this increase amounted to 27 cents per common share. We have secured rate increases from a number of our customers but many of these changes occurred too late in the quarter to positively impact operating revenues. Although general economic conditions continued to be strong, driver turnover remains at record levels, forcing recruiting and training costs upward. During the quarter, recruiting and training costs were up 109.4%. Tractor utilization (miles per tractor per week) for the quarter slipped 8.9% to 2,144 miles per week."