TFI’s Bedard unfazed by slowdown: ‘We like a storm’

TFI International grew revenue and profit in the third quarter, in the face of “broader macro uncertainty.”

Profit increased 86% year over year to $245.2 million (all figures U.S.) in the third quarter, while revenue rose 7% to $2.24 billion ($1.86 billion net of fuel surcharge). Operating income soared to $318.4 million compared to $191.6 million in the prior year, buoyed by a $75.7 million gain from the sale of CFI.

The remainder of the growth came from acquisitions and organic growth, TFI reported.

 “This resiliency in the face of challenging industry-wide conditions directly reflects our end-market and business line diversity including favorable exposure to large industrial end markets and only about a third of our revenues derived from retail channels,” chairman Alain Bedard said in a release.  

TForce Freight
(Photo: TFI International)

“In addition, it reflects our team’s proven ability to constantly adjust to the ever-changing landscape by never losing sight of our longstanding operating principles. Our ability to rapidly adjust capacity to match shifting demand is just one driver of the strong operating ratios reported today across our business segments. What’s most encouraging is the self-help nature of the opportunities ahead, with multiple internal initiatives to enhance efficiencies by replicating our past successes throughout our network.”

In a conference call with analysts, Bedard said TForce Freight – the company’s U.S. LTL business acquired from UPS – has shed 25-30% of the shipments that didn’t make sense for its network. Now, the strategy turns to improving productivity.

“Up to a level, we were able to get rid of most of the freight that really didn’t fit,” Bedard said. “Right now, we’re at a pause. Let’s work on our costs.”

Bedard said TForce Freight is still in the process of migrating its systems to those used by TFI International, which will give management new tools required to optimize costs. Those tools will be available within TForce Freight by early 2023.

Speaking to freight conditions and the overall economy, Bedard said while a slowdown is underway, he sees it as an opportunity, especially for mergers and acquisitions.

“We like a storm,” he said. “We are going to go through a storm probably in 2023. Our balance sheet is very strong and that opens M&A for us…You buy bad news and sell in good news.” He said rising interest rates actually thin out private equity buyers, reducing competition for acquisitions. “Our philosophy is you make the money on the buying, never on the selling,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company continues to buy back its own stock. “Right now, the best M&A we can do is TFI,” Bedard said.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.


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