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Canada’s Publicly-Traded Fleets Weathering Storm

Vitran suffered a US$3.2 million loss in the fourth quarter but finished the 2008 fiscal year in the black with a net income of US$4.6 million. That's down, however, from a net income of $13.7 million...

Vitran suffered a US$3.2 million loss in the fourth quarter but finished the 2008 fiscal year in the black with a net income of US$4.6 million. That’s down, however, from a net income of $13.7 million in 2007. Revenue increased 8.3% in 2008, including a 4.5% increase in LTL.

Fourth quarter revenue was down 11.5% compared the same quarter in 07, the company reported.

“Although we are disappointed with the financial results, the fourth quarter of 2008 marked another period of significant achievements for Vitran in the face of an unmistakable retraction in the entire North American economy and transportation industry,” said Vitran president and CEO, Rick Gaetz. “We are very pleased to have completed the final steps of our US LTL operating integration with the amalgamation of redundant workforces and facilities in the overlap legacy PJAX and Vitran Express operating regions.”

Contrans Income Fund has wrapped up what its chairman and CEO Stan Dunford referred to as “its best financial performance ever, given the bleak and deteriorating business environment in which it operated throughout the year.”

The company concluded 2008 with net earnings of $29.5 million, up from $26.2 million in 2007. Not surprisingly, net earnings slid in the fourth quarter to $3 million compared to $7.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, the company reported. Despite the solid performance in 08, the company admitted it has been impacted by the recession. Freight shipments in Contrans’ van operations were down, with the segment generating $21.6 million less revenue in 2008 than in 07.

Part of the decline was due to the closure of a major customer, the company reported.

“The current recession is global in scale and is affecting every aspect of the North American economy,” added Dunford. “In spite of Contrans’ diverse customer base, service offerings and geographic spheres of operations, it is not immune to the effects of this recession. Management’s top priority will be a continued focus on maintaining the financial strength of Contrans particularly if the current recession becomes even more severe or prolonged.”

Key acquisitions helped pave the way to a more profitable 2008 and fourth quarter for Mullen Group Income Fund. The company generated record consolidated revenues of $1.3 billion last year -a 17.4% increase over 2007 revenues. The company attributed the growth to: the acquisition of the transport services of Essential Energy Services Trust, R. E. Line Trucking, and Pro North Oilfield Services; the strong performance of the trucking/logistics segment; strong demand for the transportation of fluids; and efforts to control costs.

In the fourth quarter, Mullen generated revenue of $354.8 million and a profit of $7.1 million.

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