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Do SAIA’s 3Q17 Operating Metrics Support LTL Trend?

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SAIA’s LTL operating stats

Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL), SAIA (SAIA), and YRC Worldwide (YRCW) provide insight into their quarterly operating metrics. SAIA Motor, a subsidiary of SAIA, ranked tenth among top ten LTL (less-than-truckload) carriers by 2016 revenue in the US. According to 3Q17 data, SAIA’s LTL shipments per workday rose 2.5% in July 2017 on a year-over-year basis. Its LTL tonnage per workday jumped 2.8% in the same month compared with July 2016.

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In August 2017, SAIA’s LTL shipments per workday rose 1.9%. In the same month, the LTL tonnage per workday expanded 2.3% on a year-over-year basis. Hurricane Harvey impacted SAIA’s business. The company estimated a 3% and 4% rise in August shipments and tonnage, respectively, had the storm not hit its operations.

YRC Worldwide’s 2Q17 LTL metrics

YRC Worldwide operates in two segments: YRC Freight and Regional Transportation. YRC Freight’s July 2017 tonnage per day was almost flat on a year-over-year basis. However, the segment’s August 2017 tonnage per day contracted by around 1% compared with August 2016. The revenue per hundredweight in 3Q17 through August rose nearly 3.8%.

The company’s regional segment posted a decent 5.3% rise in LTL tonnage per day in July 2017 on a YoY basis. In August 2017, the same metric rose 3.5% compared to August 2016. Even the revenue per hundredweight in 3Q17 through August jumped 1.3%.

James Welch, YRCW’s CEO, commented, “While we are experiencing some near-term challenges as a result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the economy remains stable.”

Investing in ETFs

Investors who want exposure to transportation stocks can consider the Industrial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLI). This ETF holds 9.4% in key US railroads (CSX) and 11.5% in major airlines.

The above data makes it clear that LTL tonnage and pricing are seeing upward momentum. In the next part, we’ll look at analysts’ opinion on these LTL carriers.

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