TFI Profit Falls 17.1% on ‘Worse Than Expected’ Market

Freight Recession Unlikely to End Before Start of 2025, CEO Says
TFI headquarters in Quebec
TFI headquarters in Quebec. (TFI International)

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Profits at TFI International fell 17.1% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2024 on the back of what CEO Alain Bédard said was a particularly weak freight environment for both the Canadian carrier’s less-than-truckload and truckload operations.

“What we saw in Q1 was way, way worse than expected,” the Montreal-based carrier’s top executive said during an April 26 earnings call.

“I would never have anticipated ’24 was going to be so rough in terms of the freight environment,” Bédard said, adding that the ongoing freight recession was unlikely to end before the start of 2025.

The company’s Q1 net income totaled $92.8 million or diluted earnings per share of $1.09, compared with $111.9 million, $1.27, in Q1 2023.

TFI ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

TFI Earnings Q1 2024

Still, TFI reported total revenue in the quarter of $1.871 billion, up 1.14% compared with $1.85 billion in Q1 2023.

The increase was due to contributions from acquisitions, the company said in a late April 25 statement, although this was partially offset by a reduction in volumes due to the weak freight environment and to a reduction in fuel surcharge revenue.

Revenue at the company’s LTL segment — TFI’s largest unit — fell 1.48% to $680.7 million from $690.9 million. TFI ranks No. 6 on TT’s list of the top LTL carriers.

However, the unit’s U.S. operations — which was built upon an $800 million acquisition from UPS Inc. in 2021 — saw a $24 million or 5.2% rise in revenue. TFI said the improvement was driven by a 7.3% increase in tonnage to 838,000 tons from 781,000 tons and an 11.5% rise in revenue per shipment to $349.43 from $313.37 a year earlier.

Shipment count at the U.S. operations saw a 5.7% decline to 1.39 million from 1.47 million, but TFI said this was largely the result of an effort to “improve the quality of freight.”


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“It took us two years just to try to convince these guys, because you’re paid by the weight, why would you haul light shipments? This is stupid!” Bédard told analysts.

The unit posted an operating ratio in the quarter of 92.6, compared with 95.7 a year earlier. Operating ratio provides insight on how well a company is balancing its costs and revenue generation. The lower the ratio, the better a company’s performance.

Much more work remains to be done, Bédard told analysts. “We’re probably in the second inning of a nine-inning game,” he said.

“We still drive too many miles between each stop. We still don’t pick up enough freight at each stop. We say that the tiger is always the last one to survive in the jungle,” Bédard said, adding that missed pickups are improving.

“We put more freight on the road versus a year ago ... we still have a lot of work to do over there, but we know what we have to do. That’s the beauty! We have to execute and we’re just starting to see an improvement in our execution,” he said.

TFI had a “tangible opportunity ahead to drive much stronger LTL results,” Bédard said.

Operating ratios at the company’s Canadian LTL operations have typically been much stronger than those of its U.S. operations.

In the most recent quarter, TFI’s Canadian LTL operations posted an operating ratio of 80.9. A year earlier, the unit posted an operating ratio of 75.5.

Turning around TFI’s U.S. LTL operations is a key focus for the company in 2024, particularly as the company prepares to spin off its truckload unit.


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In March, TFI sought to speed up that turnaround with the acquisition of Hercules Forwarding Inc. LTL carrier Hercules focuses on intra-U.S. and U.S.-to-Canada cross-border transportation.

TFI’s LTL operating income increased 15% to $66.9 million from $57.9 million.

However, the company’s truckload unit saw an operating income decrease of 41% to $41.5 million from $70.5 million in the year-ago period, primarily on lower volumes.

Revenue at the truckload unit decreased by $16.4 million or 4% to $397.7 million in Q1 from $414.1 million in the year-ago period.

The truckload market remains weak, Bédard said during the call. “Truckload in Q1 was a disaster. Just look at our peers in the U.S. It’s a very difficult market in truckload at the moment. But we believe we will be able to change that over the next few quarters.”

However, Bedard said in the statement that the company’s logistics segment turned in “very strong results,” benefiting from the 2023 acquisition of JHT Holdings.

TFI bought Class 6 to Class 8 truck manufacturer transportation provider JHT in August. JHT transports trucks from manufacturing and final assembly plants to dealers and customers.

The logistics arm posted a 24% revenue increase to $441.9 million in Q1 from $355.3 million in the year-ago period.

Adding JHT to the fold was one of 12 acquisitions in 2023 for TFI, headlined by the $1 billion Daseke Inc. deal.

So far in 2024, TFI has inked three acquisitions: Hercules, bulk transportation specialist Sharp Trucking Services and food-grade liquids carrier LJW Tank Lines.

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