U.S. markets bullish on trucking

NEW YORK (Sept. 15, 2003, via truckinginfo.com) — Economic analysts are seeing the beginnings of improvement in the trucking industry, in contrast with similar signs last year that failed to materialize.

Last year, large trucking companies reported increased volumes, better rates and higher profits due to consolidation, as thousands of smaller carriers went out of business.

But today, analysts and industry officials are pointing to strength in the retail and manufacturing sectors as catalysts for growing freight tonnage, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier this week, Merrill Lynch raised its third quarter earnings estimates for Swift Transportation Co., Werner Enterprises Inc. and J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.

The upgrade follows the release of a report from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) showing that freight tonnage rose 2 per cent in July compared with last year. It was the second consecutive monthly tonnage increase on a year-over-year basis.

“There’s a very clear correlation between manufacturing and tonnage,” ATA economist Diego Saltes said.

A key index of manufacturing activity in August rose to its highest level since last December. The Institute for Supply Management report also said that while demand for manufactured goods was up in August, inventories were down — a trend that could spell good news for the trucking industry.

High diesel prices and skyrocketing insurance costs are still affecting the industry, but trucking companies have been passing most of these costs to their customers.

The Dow Jones Trucking Index, which tracks 38 companies in the sector, is up 33 per cent over the past year.

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