Four takeaways from the TFI International analysts call

MONTREAL, Que. – TFI International posted record fourth quarter results on Feb. 27, and CEO Alain Bedard expanded on the company’s operations and industry trends in a customary conference call with analysts this morning.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:


On Pricing

Bedard is confident TFI International will make further progress this year in pushing price increases. In U.S. truckload, he anticipates rate increases of 2-8%.

“It’s still a very solid year for us in terms of being able to adjust to a more fair pricing environment,” he said.

For Canada LTL, rate increases will be more modest, in the 3% range.

“Pricing in Canada is really tight on the LTL side,” Bedard said. “In the U.S., carriers are getting something like around 10%. I believe in Canada 2019 pricing on the LTL side, we should be able to get about 3% improvement. So, we are going to do better by being better on the cost side.”

The rollout of the Canadian electronic logging device (ELD) mandate should help improve prices, Bedard anticipated. But he said the biggest benefit of the ELD mandate will be improved safety.

“This is going to help safety on the roads in Canada, not having drivers who are cheating,” said Bedard.


On the freight environment

Freight volumes remain solid, especially in the U.S., where Bedard said truckload volumes are extremely strong.

“When I looked at January for U.S. truckload operations, I fell off my chair,” said Bedard. “It was really, really good. February is a little different story because of the weather issues we had in the U.S. and in Canada as well.”

Canadian volumes are mixed – truckload is doing well, package-and-courier is down, and specialty truckload is a little slower due to seasonality.

“We believe the bellwether will be March,” Bedard said of volumes. “When we talk to our customers, they anticipate they’ll be busy, so we’ll be busy as well.”


On the driver shortage

The issue of driver retention could not be more different between the U.S. and Canada. Here in Canada, Bedard said driver turnover is around 10%. In the U.S., it’s closer to the industry average at about 90%. Bedard said the industry must put more pressure on shippers to respect drivers’ time, because even if they’re being paid to wait, drivers want to drive.

“You have to pay them a better rate per mile, which has happened over the last two years, but you also have to give those guys miles. They can’t sit in traffic. They can’t sit in a customer’s yard for hours. This is where our operations guys are working more and more with customers to say, this is no more,” Bedard said. “A guy cannot run in circles in a yard for two hours trying to find his trailer. No. It compounds the problem.”

Bedard also said TFI International is focused on hiring experienced drivers, as newer drivers tend to have higher turnover rates.


On mergers and acquisitions

TFI International spent about $150 million on acquisitions in 2018, and that number could climb to as much as $200 million this year. Bedard said any deals are likely to be smaller in nature. While the company is always on the lookout for good acquisitions, Bedard said buying back TFII stock is an attractive alternative.

“This is the best thing we can do is buying our own, because we know 100% what TFI is all about. I know the company inside out,” Bedard said.

For details on the company’s Q4 and full year 2018 financial performance, click here.


James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Quote :
    ” he said the biggest benefit of the ELD mandate will be improved safety ” ……………….. ROTFLMAO !

    Let me tell you a little story about a guy I know . He sleeps 5 hours a night and has been for the past 25 years ! He can’t sleep 5.5 nor 6 hours . He sleeps 5 hours and then ready to face his day .

    However , in the trucking industry he would have to turn his thumbs for 3 extra hours doing nothing . Then once those 3 extra hours passed , by law , he can start his day . That same law gives him a right to drive for 13 hours and work an extra hour equalling to 14 + 2 hours of break time equalling 16 hours , but he was already up for an extra 3 hours turning his thumbs and wouldn’t cut his day short . So he’s been up for 19 freaking hours out of 24 because of an electronic logging device that controls how long he must sleep before he can drive and therefor keeps him from starting early and stopping early for a full days work !!! How safe is that ?

    And by the way , the USA has already “proven” that e-logs are not improving safety , it’s quite the opposite !

    As far as cheating is concerned , are e-logs going to prevent bribes ?

    specialty truckload is a little slower due to seasonality ???

    Depends on the “specialty” being pointed out . That statement is way to generalized ! BE MORE PRECISE ! Flatbed is a specialty , car hauling is a specialty , food tankers are a specialty , fuel tankers are a specialty etc etc etc !!! Hey even reefer is now considered to be a specialty !

    “Here in Canada, Bedard said driver turnover is around 10%”
    ROTFLMAO ! Where are you getting your stats from ???

    ““You have to pay them a better rate per mile,”


    “newer drivers tend to have higher turnover rates”

    And why is that ? Older experienced drivers have been molded and used to the abuse and exploitation . Newer drivers will show you the proverbial middle finger when attempting to take advantage of them .

    Good luck with trying to find experienced drivers , haven’t you heard that there is a “shortage” ? LOL ! Now they want to bring in “new” immigrant drivers by droves into the industry to fill the supposed “driver shortage” gap ! ROTFLMAO !

    “Bedard said buying back TFII stock is an attractive alternative ”

    When ??? I hope you didn’t do that between July 2018 & October 2018 , otherwise perhaps shareholders should vote for a change in management ………..

    Best of luck !

  • E-LOGS Do NOT improve safety. Hourly pay will along with improvement in parking and driver treatment at shipper and receivers . Over 200 trucks were hit between Sept 1 of 2018 and Dec 30 of 2018 while parked illegally to take their
    break. rest break as required by the E-BOOK. At the truck show last week they said in the previous week 7 people had been killed running to the back of trucks that we’re parked. My truck burned by my E- log catching on fire. While I was in the bunk. This has happened to 7 other people in the last six months that I know of. Accident rates and speeding tickets are up. Many trucks drivers are quitting as their pay has dropped 7 to 10 percent because of the new rules that do not allow you to drive to safe parking. I have been towed 3 times from receivers in New York state got a lawyer so the receiver had to pay the tow bill when I had no hours.