Though Landstar System reported lower net income and revenue in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2008, the carrier remained profitable and believes the overall freight market is now rebounding well-- albeit at a slow pace.

"I see a gradually improving overall freight environment, and I believe that the worst is over [and] I am cautiously optimistic as we close out 2009,” said Henry Gerkens, Landstar president & CEO, in the company’s third quarter earnings statement. “The very difficult revenue comparisons to prior year experienced by Landstar throughout 2009 will continue to ease throughout the 2009 fourth quarter.”

Landstar reported net income of $20.1 million on revenue of $500.7 million in the third quarter this year, down from net income of $32.8 million on revenues of $732.8 million in the same period last year. Net income for the first nine months of 2009 totaled $51.8 million on revenues of $1.46 billion, compared to net income of $86.3 million on revenues of $2.04 billion over the first nine months of 2008.

Gerkens said Landstar's revenue continued to be negatively impacted by the recession in the domestic and global economies during the third quarter, with revenue declines experienced across multiple sectors affecting a broad range of accounts. Notable third quarter 2009 over third quarter 2008 revenue declines continued to be generated from the U.S. Department of Defense and line haul service offering, he said, although on a positive note revenue generated from the automotive sector began to improve for the first time in a couple of years.

"The number of loads hauled in the third quarter of 2009 decreased only 11% compared to the third quarter of 2008, an improvement from the 16% decline experienced in the second quarter of 2009 compared to the second quarter of 2009,” Gerkens added. “The number of loads hauled in the third quarter of 2009 increased 1% over the second quarter this year. I believe this is a clear indication that the decrease in demand that began during the latter part of the third quarter in 2008 will provide for easing volume comparisons into [Landstar’s] fourth quarter of 2009 and continuing into 2010.”

He also pointed out that Landstar’s revenue per load began to stabilize during the third quarter this year, though the general pricing environment still remains somewhat challenging.