Good news continues

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With most publicly held carriers reporting, it’s clear that 2002 was a year of significant recovery for the truckload segment of the industry, at least for the major players. Only one TL carrier – Transport Corp. of America – reported a loss.

2002 Operating Profits
(in thousands of dollars)
2002 2001 Change
Truckload
* Boyd Bros. Transportation 2,738 2,219 23.4%
Covenant Transport 24,974 -63 NA
Heartland Express 62,049 52,619 17.9%
* J.B. Hunt Transport Svc. 100,962 72,210 39.8%
Knight Transportation 47,494 39,551 20.1%
* Landstar System 24,191 20,093 20.4%
Marten Transport 11,861 15,107 -21.5%
* Swift Transportation 123,389 87,624 40.8%
* Transport Corp. of America -920 6,963 N/A
* U.S. Xpress 18,901 13,479 40.2%
* USA Truck 9,306 6,486 43.5%
* USF Glen Moore 5,311 2,887 84.0%
Werner Enterprises 99,454 79,329 25.4%
LTL
ABF Freight 68,221 75,934 -10.2%
Con-Way Transportation 147,154 157,467 -6.5%
* Old Dominion Freight Lines 36,286 24,725 46.8%
Overnite Transportation 71,200 64,000 11.3%
Roadway Express 67,665 61,465 10.1%
* USFreightways 105,172 108,620 -3.2%
Yellow Transportation 70,594 55,884 26.3%
Items with * are new.
Source: Carrier announcements

Transport America’s challenges during 2002 included the loss of its largest customer, Sears. Still, the Minneapolis-St. Paul-based carrier realized year-over-year growth in customer-paid miles during each 2002 quarter, said Michael Paxton, chairman, president and CEO. The carrier also had to shift operational strategies in the past couple of years. Transport America had traditionally given up utilization in order to get higher-priced spot-market freight. “This strategy worked well during the 1990s as demand for truckload capacity exceeded supply,” Paxton said. “However, when the macro-economic factors reversed, the high-priced spot-market freight opportunities disappeared.”

In the LTL segment, the story seems to be the profit gains of multi-regional carrier Old Dominion Freight Lines. Chairman and CEO Earl Congdon attributed ODFL’s success during 2002 to an expansion of its sales force in key markets and a continued “focus on becoming a one-stop transportation source for all our customers’ LTL needs.”