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Swift Transportation 1Q profit triples

PHOENIX (AP) -- Swift Transportation Co. said on Monday that its net income more than tripled as it kept its trucks busier and fuel prices fell slightly.

The earnings topped Wall Street expectations and the company's stock rose almost 5 percent in extended trading.

Swift earned $23.3 million, or 17 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31. That was up from $6.2 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier. If not for special items, it said it would have earned 21 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting an adjusted profit of 16 cents per share.

Revenue rose almost 4 percent to $856.8 million, from $826.9 million a year ago. Analysts had been expecting $862.7 million.

Swift said it had 130 fewer trucks in its fleet on average during the quarter. But the remaining trucks were used more heavily, with utilization rising 3.2 percent compared to a year earlier in its truckload segment, its biggest unit, which moves trailers one-way around North America.

Fuel expenses fell slightly from a year ago to $151.9 million. Fuel prices rose in January and February, but then dropped in March.

The company ended the quarter with 11,660 tractors, and said it plans to add 300 to 500 more this year.

Shares of Swift Transportation Co. had fallen 11 cents to close at $13.57 before the results were released. They jumped 63 cents to $14.20 in after-market trading.