Iowa-based truckload carrier Heartland Express, Inc. saw both its revenues and earnings rise in the first quarter of 2001.

Revenues climbed approximately 7% in the first quarter of 2001 to nearly $72 million compared to just over $67 million for the same period for 2000. Net income climbed to just under $9 million for a 12.4% net margin.

Despite the challenges faced during the first quarter of 2001 – which included a slowing economy, high fuel costs, declining equipment values, and a continued tight market for owner-operators – Heartland said it managed to achieve an 83.1% operating ratio.

Heartland officials said the company believes its first-quarter results are favorable in a depressed economic climate, and the continued focus will remain on service to new and existing customers to generate increased revenue, maintain a debt-free status, controll cost and hold a strong financial position with cash on hand.

Heartland added that it maintained a debt-free position and ended the quarter with $132.8 million in cash, cash equivalents, and municipal bonds on hand as compared to $128. million on December 31, 2000.