Heartland Express Inc. (Nasdaq:HTLD), Coralville, Iowa has announced financial results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2005.

Gross revenues for the quarter increased 11.1% to $118.7 million from $106.8 million in the first quarter of 2004. Net income increased 15.0% to $15.1 million from $13.1 million in the comparable 2004 period. Basic earnings per share were $0.20 compared to $0.17 for the first quarter of 2004. For the quarter, Heartland Express Inc. posted an operating ratio of 81.4% and a 12.7% net margin. These results were achieved in spite of record high fuel prices.
The company ended the first quarter with cash, cash equivalents and investments of $288.2 million, a $29.9 million increase from the $258.3 million reported on December 31, 2004. During the quarter the company generated $32.9 million net cash from operations, a 28.4% increase over the first quarter of 2004. The company's balance sheet continues to be debt-free.
During the quarter, Heartland Express declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $1,500,000 at the rate of $0.02 per share. It was paid on April 1, 2005 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 22, 2005. In addition, the company declared a 3-for-2 stock split, paid as a 50% stock dividend in the third quarter of 2004. This stock split increased the amount of outstanding common stock from 50.0 million to 75.0 million shares. As a result, the company's annual cash dividend has increased to $6.0 million from $4.0 million. All earnings per share data presented have been adjusted retroactively to reflect the effect of the stock dividend.
In March, the company continued the replacement of its tractor fleet with new International 9400i model tractors, receiving about 860 new tractors through the end of the quarter. The fleet replacement will continue throughout the year and is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2006.
Heartland is pleased to announce it recently received a satisfactory rating, the highest attainable, from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Company has always been committed to safety in its operating practices and driver hiring standards.
For the second year in a row, the company increased driver pay during the first quarter by $0.03 per mile.