10 Largest LTL Carriers Grew 4.3 Percent in 2012

10 Largest LTL Carriers Grew 4.3 Percent in 2012

The 10 less-than-truckload carriers with more than $1 billion in annual revenue increased combined sales 4.3 percent in 2012 to $23.2 billion, accounting for 72.3 percent of total LTL industry revenue of nearly $32 billion, a study finds.

The LTL industry’s “billion-dollar club” grew much faster in 2011, when the same 10 carriers increased combined revenue 17 percent to $22.2 million, according to the study by SJ Consulting Group, a research firm in Sewickley, Pa.

For the first time since the recession, the billion-dollar carriers grew more slowly than the 25 largest LTL carriers. The 25 largest LTL carriers as a group increased revenue 4.5 percent last year, according to SJ Consulting Group.

In 2011, trucking’s “billionaires” outpaced their largest competitors by 5 percentage points when it came to sales growth. The group outpaced the 25 largest carriers by 6.6 percentage points in 2010 as the recovery began.

That indicates that after two years of steady revenue growth, the biggest LTL carriers found it harder to match prior-year growth rates and price hikes as the general economy weakened, especially in midyear and into the fall.

The number of billion-dollar LTL carriers remained constant in 2012, with FedEx Freight topping the list with an estimated $5 billion in LTL revenue. The billion-dollar carriers represented 40 percent of the 25 largest companies.

That underscores the high level of consolidation within LTL trucking, which accounts for about 5 percent of for-hire and private trucking revenue, based on total industry revenue estimates from the American Trucking Associations.

Overall, a comparison of 2011 and 2012 market share among the 10 largest LTL carriers reveals remarkable stability, with share shifting only by fractions of a percentage point. That reflects an industry still scarred by the price wars of 2009.

FedEx Freight increased its market share by 0.3 percentage points, accounting for 15.7 percent of the total LTL market, according to the SJ Consulting Group data. Con-way Freight, had 10.5 percent, and YRC Freight’s share was 10 percent.

Con-way’s LTL operation was the second-largest in the nation, with $3.34 billion in revenue, followed by the renamed YRC Freight at $3.19 billion, according to the study, featured in the March 18 print edition of The Journal of Commerce.

The next seven carriers on the Top 25 LTL carrier list are UPS Freight, $2.38 billion; Old Dominion Freight Line, $1.94 billion; ABF Freight System, $1.67 billion; Estes Express Lines, $1.66 billion; the YRC regional group of LTL carriers, $1.64 billion; R+L Carriers, $1.25 billion; and Saia, $1.1 billion.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com and follow him at www.twitter.com/wbcassidy_joc.