The world’s 50 largest logistics companies generated nearly $230 billion in revenue last year, according to Pittsburgh-based research and consulting firm SJ Consulting Group. Although that total was 5.8 percent less in dollar terms than the $244.17 billion in revenue during 2014, the decline was tied to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar vs. other currencies, and not reflective of an actual decline in company revenue.

On the contrary, revenue for 2015 would have grown 4.1 percent, including transactions in all currencies, were it not for the stronger dollar, said Mark D’Amico, the SJ Consulting analyst who compiled the list for JOC.com. Moreover, D’Amico said, world trade growth for 2015 amounted to about 2 percent, according to the World Trade Organization, which means the total revenue of the 50 largest logistics companies grew at a faster rate than the rate of global trade. “It is really a currency story,” he said, as the revenue recorded by many of the companies on the list were recorded in their local currencies, and only later converted into U.S. dollars.

As for the impact of the stronger dollar on the results, the revenue of Japanese companies, booked in Japanese yen, was negatively affected by the 12.6 percent decline in the yen versus the U.S. dollar. Eurozone companies’ revenues were hurt by the 16.4 percent decline of the euro versus the U.S. dollar. And the revenue of Copenhagen-based DSV felt the impact of the 16.5 decline of the Danish krone versus the dollar.

This year’s list also continues the theme of corporate acquisitions — some companies aimed to increase their ownership of valuable transportation assets in 2015. The decline in the price of fuel also had a negative impact on company revenue. For example, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, which owns thousands of trailers, suffered from the decline in fuel surcharge revenue because of the drop in fuel prices.

News & Analysis

XPO in the second quarter recorded a profit, the first since CEO Bradley S. Jacobs took control of the company in 2011.
17 Aug 2016
Refinancing saves XPO Logistics money that can be reinvested in "optimizing" its global business.
16 Aug 2016
Technology platform will enable dispatchers and drivers at small companies that contract with the logistics to book loads, assign them to trucks and track vehicles and shipments.
CEVA Logistics' contract logistics division performed well for the company, recording its best revenue growth since the beginning of 2015.
05 Aug 2016
CEVA Logistics posted lower revenue and earnings in the first half.
The acquisition of UTi Worlwide made DSV the world’s fourth-largest freight forwarder and the benefits of the deal are being felt sooner than anticipated.
05 Aug 2016
DSV’s second-quarter profit rose as it “neutralized” the operating deficit of recently acquired UTi Worldwide.
03 Aug 2016
XPO's North American LTL operations, the former Con-way, led the company's drive to its first quarterly net profit.
Truckload revenue per load was down 15 percent in the second quarter at Echo Global Logistics, but mergers and acquisitions kept the company in the black overall.
28 Jul 2016
The acquisition of Command Transportation last year is helping Echo Global Logistics gain truckload brokerage market share.

Commentary

When UPS on Jan. 23 pre-announced fourth-quarter earnings, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Yet some analysts said they were “troubled by the company’s inability to get peak (operating expenses) right during what is increasingly becoming the most important quarter of the year” and were concerned “that UPS got the service but not the cost, which is going to leave the market wondering if it can only have one or the other.”