Transportation and warehousing profits down 11.8% in first quarter

OTTAWA, Ont. — The first quarter proved a strong one for corporate profits overall but transportation and warehousing companies have nothing to cheer about.

Corporate profits increased 6.0% in the first quarter of 2004, fueled by gains in the oil and gas and banking sectors, but transportation and warehousing companies lost ground, as their profits dropped 11.8% to $2.1 billion, data from Statistics Canada reveals.

Further comparing the plight of the transportation and warehousing in the first quarter, non-financial industries enjoyed a 6.4% jump in profits overall, led by oil and gas (+18.2%) and manufacturing companies (+13.5%). Overall, 10 of the 17 non-financial industries showed higher profits in the first quarter.

The drop in transportation and warehousing profits follows two straight quarters of double-digit growth. The decline was led by the transportation carriers (which includes all modes). Their operating profits fell 19.2% to $1.4 billion from an all-time high of $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter. A labour disruption, airfare discounting and higher fuel costs were all cited as factors in the profit slide.

However, first quarter results remained historically strong, bolstered by rising manufacturing shipments.

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