Fleet Management

Carriers See Modest Economic Improvement

July 06, 2009

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Truckload carriers had a somewhat rosy outlook on the state of the economy and expect things to improve in the coming months
, according to a recent survey conducted by Transport Capital Partners. The survey, which questioned 150 carriers, found that while times are still tough, the trucking industry sees modest improvements in freight volume, spot pricing and credit, among others.

The survey found that 37 percent of carriers expect traffic volumes to get better over the next 12 months, up from 21.4 percent when surveyed in February.

Despite the fact that freight has been weak for the last 36 months, spot pricing has risen since the beginning of the year. "This indicates that we have experienced some seasonal improvements in demand since the middle of 1Q09; however, it may be premature to suggest that year-over-year comparisons are improving," according to a summary of a conference call discussing the survey.

When asked about rates, only 28.7 percent of respondents believe rate pressure will worsen over the next year, down from 58.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Credit and insurance seemed to be areas where carriers expressed optimism. According to the survey, 57.4 percent of all the carriers said that credit availability has been stable over the past year, while 36.9 percent indicated that their lender has been supportive and understanding during these times. Respondents also indicated that insurance renewal terms were improving, with 45.9 percent of the vote.

Transport Capital Partners also reported that fewer carriers are looking into liquidation and selling, while more expressed interest in buying other carriers. Only 13.1 percent are considering liquidation in the next six months if conditions don't improve, down from 22.3 percent from the last survey. In addition, only 18.9 percent are thinking about selling during the next 18 months. The percentage of carriers considering buying another carrier rose this time around to 37.7 percent from 35.9 percent in the first quarter.

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