Knight Transportation's profit flat in 3rd quarter

PHOENIX -- Trucking company Knight Transportation Inc. said the third quarter was tougher than expected, as high fuel prices and a weak economy hurt demand for freight-shipping, resulting in flat earnings.

The company said Wednesday that its net income was $16.6 million, or 21 cents per share, virtually the same results as the 2011 third quarter.

Analysts expected 22 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $237.9 million from $227.1 million last year, beating analysts' forecast of $233 million.

The average revenue per mile excluding fuel surcharges rose less than 1 percent, average revenue per tractor excluding the surcharges fell declined 2.5 percent as the company had more tractors and fewer of them were busy.

Diesel fuel prices rose during the quarter after declining for much of the second quarter. The company said it was looking to improve fuel efficiency with better driving and an updated fleet of trucks.

The shares fell 11 cents to close at $14.68 before the report was released.