Smithway Reports Record 3Q Earnings

Smithway Motor Xpress Corp. announced that for the third quarter, net earnings improved 6% to $1.7 million compared to $1.6 million for the same quarter in 2005, and for the first nine months of 2006, net earnings improved 24% to $4.3 million compared to $3.5 million in the 2005 period.

For the third quarter of 2006, operating revenue increased approximately 3% to $59 million from $57.3 million for the corresponding quarter in 2005. Operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $10.4 million, decreased approximately 1% to $48.6 million from $49.1 million, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $8.2 million, for the corresponding quarter in 2005. For the third quarter of 2006, net earnings were $1.7 million, or $0.35 per basic share and $0.34 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $1.6 million, or $0.33 per basic share and $0.32 per diluted share, for the same quarter in 2005.

For the first nine months of 2006, operating revenue increased approximately 9% to $177.6 million from $162.4 million for the corresponding period in 2005. Operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $28.7 million, increased approximately 4% to $148.9 million from $142.7 million, excluding fuel surcharge revenue of $19.7 million, for the corresponding period in 2005. For the first nine months of 2006, net earnings were $4.3 million, or $0.87 per basic share and $0.85 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $3.5 million, or $0.71 per basic share and $0.69 per diluted share, for the same period in 2005.

Said G. Larry Owens, President and Chief Executive Officer, "Our third quarter 2006 earnings marked the highest quarterly earnings in Smithway history. Our earnings for the first nine months of 2006 were also the highest in history. These strong results boosted our earnings per share for the trailing four quarters to $1.02. Our operating ratio, excluding fuel surcharge revenue, for the quarter was 92.7% compared to 93.3% during the third quarter of 2005, a 60 basis point improvement. For the nine months ended September 30, 2006, our operating ratio improved by 100 basis points.

"We were able to achieve these improved results despite lower freight demand, escalating fuel prices and increased driver pay, which increased our costs and reduced our truck production. A 5% increase in our rate per loaded mile somewhat offset these negative factors, resulting in a 3.9% decrease in revenue per seated tractor per week, compared to the third quarter 2005.

"During the quarter, average fuel prices increased 14% to $2.81 per gallon compared to $2.46 per gallon in the third quarter of 2005. Fuel surcharge revenue mitigated 90% of this price increase. We raised driver wages on April 1, 2006 and may be required to do so again in order to continue to attract and retain qualified drivers."

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