Key metrics for logistics provider ArcBest Corp. (NASDAQ: ARCB) showed that less-than-truckload demand improved again in November. The company’s Tuesday filing with the SEC noted that the positive trends previously reported in October remained in place during November.
The Fort Smith, Arkansas-based company reported a 9% year-over-year increase in November revenue in its asset-based division as tonnage increased 8% and revenue per hundredweight, or yield, was up 1%. Tonnage in the company’s LTL segment climbed double digits in the month, similar to the increase seen in October.
Total asset-based shipments increased 2% year-over-year in November, with weight per shipment climbing 6%. Truckload spot tonnage was down by double-digit percentages, reversing the mid-single-digit percentage increase reported in October. That month was positively impacted by COVID-related disruptions earlier in the year, which has extended the home buying season and resulted in higher TL shipments at the company’s household moving service, U-Pack.
The filing showed that yields continued to be impacted by lower fuel surcharges and changes in freight mix, including heavier shipments. So far in the quarter, pricing on the company’s published LTL business has increased low single-digits, excluding fuel surcharges.
ArcBest’s LTL metrics for the first two months of the fourth quarter have outpaced some of its competitors.
Last week, Saia (NASDAQ: SAIA) reported tonnage increases for the first two months of the fourth quarter of 5.7% and 7.3%, respectively. Old Dominion Freight Line (NASDAQ: ODFL) reported a 6.3% year-over-year increase in November revenue, following a 2.6% increase during October. Results from YRC Worldwide (NASDAQ: YRCW) were more subdued but the carrier reported that revenue turned positive during November.
The LTL industry appears to finally be getting a little help from the industrial economy. The Purchasing Managers’ Index remained above the all-important 50% level for the sixth straight month in November at 57.5% and industrial production ticked 1.1% higher during October.
ArcBest’s asset-light unit reported a 33% year-over-year increase in revenue, but purchased transportation expense climbed 35% higher. The cost of capacity as a percentage of revenue has increased 100 basis points to 84% through the first two months of the quarter. High demand and a lack of truck capacity are keeping spot rates elevated, compressing logistics margins across the industry.