Contrans, Mullen surf above rough waters

WOODSTOCK, Ont. — Two of Canada’s largest trucking operations managed to increase revenue during 2008, despite the troubled economy.

The Alberta-based Mullen Group Income Fund generated record consolidated revenues of approximately $1.3 billion, which the company attributes partly to the success of its acquisitions.

Contrans Income Fund meanwhile, wasn’t hurt by keeping its income fund status in tact and increased revenue in 2008 to $488.8 million, up from $485.9 million in 2007.

"Contrans may have produced its best financial performance ever given the bleak and deteriorating business environment in which it operated throughout the year," stated Contrans’ chairman and CEO Stan Dunford.

"Few businesses can operate without the need for debt in their capital structure," continued Dunford. "Contrans is in the enviable position of not needing to refinance at a time when financing sources are scarce and debt service costs have become more expensive.”

The positive results for Contrans in 2008 were hampered slightly by a loss in the fourth quarter. In 2007, the Ontario-based carrier reached revenues of $118.5 million, but that total dropped to $109.6 million in 2008.

"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.”

The company’s management’s plans to keep a continued focus on maintaining the financial strength of Contrans particularly if the current recession becomes even more severe or prolonged.

For the Mullen Group, the revenues of $1.3 billion during 2008 were an increase of 17.4 percent from 2007’s total of $1.1 billion. Operating income also increased on a year over year basis by $64.2 million to a record $273.3 million from $209.1 million last year.

The improvement and record results were mainly attributable to the fund’s acquisition of the transport division of Essential Energy Services Trust, R. E. Line Trucking and Pro North Oilfield Services.

Other contributing factors included the strong performance by the Trucking/Logistics Segment; the strong demand for services related to the transportation of fluids and servicing of oil wells; and the strong demand for specialized services related to the build out and servicing of projects related to the extraction of oilsands deposits.

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