Fleet Management

Carriers Optimistic for 2012

March 20, 2012

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The Transport Capital Partners 1Q 2012 Business Expectations Survey found that carriers continue to be optimistic for the year ahead, with 77% of the carriers surveyed expecting volumes to increase in the year ahead and only 2.6% expecting volumes to decrease.

Larger carriers are much more optimistic this quarter by a factor of almost 25%. "As the economy recovers with increasing consumer confidence buoying retail growth the first quarter, carriers are seeing earlier volumes and tight capacity boding well for the next year," says Richard Mikes, TCP partner.

Carriers showed a very similar outlook for freight rate increases: 77% of carriers expect volumes to increase and only 1% expect volumes to decrease. "Cost pressure, including driver scarcity, will likely keep carriers well aware of the need to maintain margins to afford new replacement trucks as they look ahead to lowered truck utilization with new hours-of-service regulations in mid-2013," says Lana Batts, TCP partner.

However, The expectations for rate increases has been higher than actual freight rate increases during the past three months. Only 45% of carriers have seen rate increases in the past three months compared to 50% in November of 2011, and nearly 60% in August of 2011.

"The diversity of rate increases among types of carriers and the normal seasonality expectations may be playing out early-on in the first quarter," Mikes says. "The focus of most carriers may have been to keep trucks busy to keep drivers on the payroll and to ensure that volumes did not dip."

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