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Motor carriers retain profitability in face of rising costs

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Canadian motor carriers maintained their profitability despite a 3.1% increase in costs during the...


OTTAWA, Ont. — Canadian motor carriers maintained their profitability despite a 3.1% increase in costs during the final quarter of 2003, Statistics Canada figures published today indicate.

The average motor carrier operating ratio (operating expenses divided by operating revenues) remained unchanged at 0.94 in other words, carriers are making six cents on the dollar. Arguably, any ratio less than 0.95 is considered healthy for the trucking industry.

There were an estimated 2,736 for-hire trucking companies based in Canada with annual revenues of $1 million or more in the fourth quarter of 2003, down from 2,855 carriers in the fourth quarter of 2002. Operating revenues totalled $5.31 billion and operating expenses reached $4.99 billion, up 3.1% and 3.3% respectively from the fourth quarter of 2002.

Both average operating revenues and expenses were up, 7.2% for revenues and 7.7% for expenses, in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter of 2002. Average expenses were at $1.82 million compared with $1.69 million in the same period in 2002.

The increase in expenses was driven by higher purchased transportation and other expenses combined with smaller increases in salaries and wages, as well as payments to owners and operators. However, average costs per carrier were lower for depreciation (-16.6%) and fuel (-4.5%).

For-hire trucking transportation revenues from domestic movements increased by 13.2% to $3.44 billion from $3.04 billion one year ago. Revenues from international movements on the opposite were down by 13.2%, with inbound movements down by almost 21%.


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