Business is up at many of the nation's trucking companies, but profits are falling at a faster rate.

The 23 public carriers that have reported fourth quarter financial results posted only a 3.6 percent sales increase from the year ago quarter, with a 13.1 percent decline in profits. Margins slipped slightly as sales picked up 3.8 percent from the prior quarter while profits rose only 3 percent.
Truckload carriers increased revenue over the year by 5.9 percent; 40 percent of the increase was added tonnage and 60 percent was higher rates. Nonetheless, higher fuel prices and continuing reorganization issues with some carriers cut profits 21.8 percent below the end of 1999 quarter.
Major public less-than-truckload carriers managed only a 2.4 percent sales gain from the last quarter of 1999, even with a 9.7 percent increase in their rates. LTL profits fell 6.6 percent from the year ago quarter.
Newport's Heavy Duty Trucking freight volume index estimates an increase of 5.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 1999 to the fourth quarter of 2000. Major public TL carriers expanded slightly faster, while major public LTL carriers recorded significantly slower growth.