Despite popular belief, oil prices, which have been hovering around $100 per barrel for the better part of three months now, have not completely sucked the life force out of the freight sector.

On the contrary, numbers out of UTi Worldwide (Nasdaq: UTIW) yesterday suggest that freight companies are becoming more efficient and have been able to successfully pass along higher fuel costs to customers. It's time we stopped being frightened by freight and instead look at the growth story right under our nose.

Fueling growth
As mentioned above, UTi Worldwide reported an in-line, one-time costs excluded, EPS figure of $0.13, but the real story was that the company was able to pass along rising fuel costs to its customers, which helped it surpass revenue expectations. Every aspect of the company's business showed improvement with freight logistic services and air freight volumes rising impressively. Also of note, the company took a $0.05 one-time charge to exit underutilized logistics facilities in Europe, proving that it will trim the fat when needed as well. This is an all-around solid quarter for the newest addition to the S&P MidCap 400.

But it's not just UTi Worldwide who's seeing strong results -- air delivery juggernauts FedEx (NYSE: FDX) and United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) have stared rising fuel prices in the face and come out stronger than anyone had anticipated. Both companies have seen growth in global markets and consumers continue to not only ship packages, but are shipping more than they were at this time last year.

While many see the earthquake in Japan or weather-related issues in the U.S. as potential pitfalls to the companies' business, I see this as an opportunity to pull market share from ground transportation stalwarts JB Hunt Transport Services (Nasdaq: JBHT) and Swift Transportation (Nasdaq: SWFT). Both companies, as ground transporters of freight, are considerably more vulnerable to rising fuel costs, natural disasters, and "economic hiccups." Although rising fuel costs are a no-win scenario for any transportation company, ground-only transporters are going to take it on the chin harder than any other freight delivery segment.

Foolish roundup
Logic would indicate that rising fuel prices should have spelled doom for this sector months ago, but the results have so far proved otherwise. Until we do see a slowdown in consumer shipping rates, you have to respect the trend and take in freight stocks with open arms and an open mind.

Are you on board with these freight companies? Share your ideas in the comments section below and consider tracking UTi Worldwide, FedEx, and UPS with our free and easy-to-use watchlist in order to keep up on the latest news in the sector.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He wonders what would be more entertaining: FedEx and UPS merging into a company called FedUp, or trying to say "frightened freight" 10 times fast. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of United Parcel Service and FedEx. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of FedEx. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that always flies high.