Third Quarter LTL Results Mixed; YRC Tumbles, Others Gain

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This story appears in the Oct. 31 print edition of Transport Topics.

Less-than-truckload companies re- ported mixed results in the third- quarter as the carriers battle lower tonnage and shipments compared with a year ago.

Saia Inc. posted the strongest showing with a 17% jump in earnings year-over-year. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. earnings went up 1.4%. However, YRC Worldwide Inc. reported a 30% decline.

Saia reported $13.8 million in profits for the third quarter, or 54 cents per share. The year before, profits were $11.8 million or 46 cents. Revenue fell 0.2% to $316 million but the less-than-truckload carrier came out ahead because it cut expenses 1.2% year-over-year to $293.8 million.

“Third-quarter operating results reflect our continued pricing discipline and our companywide efforts aimed at achieving operating efficiencies across all areas of our network,” Saia CEO Rick O’Dell said.

The Johns Creek, Georgia-based company’s purchased transportation and fuel expenses dropped a combined 11%. Costs for outside maintenance on trucks dropped 14% year-over-year, which the company said was because of the new equipment in purchased in 2015.

Tonnage was down 2.9% to 913,000, shipments dropped 1.2% to 1.6 million and pounds per shipment fell 1.7% to 1,114. However, revenue per shipment went up 1.9% to $179.17 and the company said the total numbers of shipments increased in September and October versus the prior year.

In Saia’s smaller truckload unit, tonnage, shipments and revenue per shipment were all down 3% to 6%.

Saia was among several LTLs to also increase rates 4.9% in early October, which the company hopes will improve profits into 2017. The operating ratio improved 90 basis points to 92.8% year-over-year.

Meanwhile, Old Dominion Freight Line earned $85.5 million, or $1.03. That’s up from $84.4 million, or 99 cents, a year ago. Revenue rose 0.4% to $782.6 million compared with $779.5 million a year ago.

Earnings before taxes and interest fell about 2% to $137.4 million. The Thomasville, North Carolina, company came out ahead due to a 62% drop in non-operating expenses.

“Although the economic environment continued to be weak during the quarter, the pricing environment remained stable, our LTL weight per shipment increased and we exercised good control over our variable operating costs,” said CEO David Congdon.

Tonnage per day dropped 1.3% year-over-year and shipments fell 1.8%.

However, revenue per 100 pounds of freight rose 2.7% to $16.91, and the revenue per shipment jumped 3.3% to $262.35. The company said it’s the first increase in LTL weight per shipment since the end of 2014.

YRC Worldwide posted a $13.9 million profit, or 42 cents, down from the $19.8 million, or 61 cents, a year ago.

Revenue declined 1.9% to $1.2 billion at the Overland Park, Kansas-based company.

Earnings before interest and taxes dropped 19% to $38.8 million.

YRC Freight, the largest division, saw revenue fall 1.4% to $777.9 million. Tonnage per day dropped 1.3%, shipments per day dropped 2.3%. Total revenue per 100 pounds of freight fell 1.4%. With fuel sur- charges and per shipment it fell 0.4%.

The smaller regional transportation unit saw revenue fall 2.6% to $443.7 million and income before interest and taxes 35%. Tonnage and shipments per day were down 1.5% and 0.3% respectively and revenue per 100 pounds of freight and per shipment were relatively unchanged.

Saia, Old Dominion and YRC ranks Nos. 25, 11 and 5, respec- tively, on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.


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