FedEx Freight was the largest less-than-truckload carrier in the U.S. for the second consecutive year in 2010, a survey of the top LTL 25 trucking companies says.
However, the LTL unit of FedEx also racked up large losses as it struggled to rebuild pricing after a fierce rate war and integrate two carrier networks.
Con-way Freight ranked second on the list of top 25 LTL carriers, overtaking national LTL carrier YRC, according to the study by SJ Consulting Group.
YRC Worldwide, including regional carriers Holland, New Penn and Reddaway, placed second on the list for the first time, after FedEx Freight.
FedEx Freight, Con-way Freight and YRC were the largest of nine LTL carriers with more than $1 billion in revenue, the Pittsburgh-based research firm said.
FedEx Freight increased its LTL revenue 22.2 percent in 2010, while Con-way Freight's revenue rose 17.5 percent. YRC's revenue fell 16.8 percent, the study said.
The ascent of FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight marks a major shift in the LTL market, dominated for years by YRC Worldwide and its long-haul subsidiaries.
"As far back as 1979, one of YRC Worldwide's current subsidiaries had been the largest U.S. LTL trucker," said SJ Consulting analyst Michael Scheid.
The shift reflects rapid consolidation among the top LTL carriers over the past decade and the expansion of nonunion regional and multiregional carriers.
FedEx Freight raised its market share 58 percent from 2006 through 2010, largely at YRC's expense. YRC's market share declined 49 percent in the same period.
YRC's national unit controlled 18.7 percent of the LTL market in 2006, while FedEx Freight had 10.2 percent and Con-way Freight held 8.5 percent, the study said.
By 2010, YRC's market share dropped to 9.6 percent, while Con-way Freight grabbed 11 percent and FedEx Freight controlled 16.1 percent.
Although YRC's market share began to slide in 2006, the biggest shift was sparked by a fierce price war in 2009, when FedEx and Con-way aggressively cut rates.
The complete report on the top 25 LTL carriers will be published in the March 28 issue of The Journal of Commerce, and will be available to subscribers online.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.