Transport Capital Partners has completed its Business Expectation Survey for the fourth quarter of 2010 and found that 66 percent of surveyed carriers expect volumes to increase over the next year. At this time last year, about the same share of carriers expected volumes to increase, but a peak of almost 90 percent was hit in the second quarter of 2010. Richard Mikes, TCP partner, says the hopefulness which characterized the spring has waned in recent quarters as economic growth has slowed.
Still, this was the second-highest level in two years, and with over three-quarters of carriers expecting rate increases in the next year, optimism remains high. “TCP’s surveys from the last two years indicate that carriers have become more confident that volumes and rates will increase during the next year, despite the modest drop in the last two quarters,” says Lana Batts, managing partner for TCP. Mikes says shippers will be hard-pressed not to accommodate cost pressures coupled with the restricted supply of trucks and drivers that is likely to continue.
Mikes says larger carriers are more upbeat in this environment. “More of the carriers over $25 million in revenue saw rates go up in the last three months than did the smaller carriers,” which also was reflected in future rate expectations, according to the survey. However, Batts says smaller carriers are facing increasing fuel, equipment and financing constraints, and must recover more costs soon.