Less-than-truckload carrier Saia (NASDAQ: SAIA) announced Wednesday shipment metrics for the first two months of the fourth quarter that included a November tonnage hike of more than 7%.
On a year-over-year comparison, the Johns Creek, Georgia-based carrier reported that October LTL shipments increased 3.3%, with weight per shipment climbing 2.4%. The result was a 5.7% increase in tonnage for the month. November tonnage was up 7.3%, the combination of a 4.4% increase in shipments and a 2.8% increase in weight per shipment.
Most LTL carriers saw tonnage turn positive year-over-year in August, with growth accelerating in the months since.
Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) analyst Amit Mehrotra said he was “encouraged” by the report given the carrier’s “strong pricing actions” during the third quarter, which produced a 6.9% increase in contract renewals.
“While the acceleration in trends is likely attributable to some company-specific dynamics, it also points to an improving industrial economy,” Mehrotra said in a note to clients.
The manufacturing segment can represent more than 80% of total tonnage for some LTL carriers.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a survey of manufacturing supply executives and gauge of manufacturing activity, remained above the all-important 50% level again in November at 57.5%. A reading above 50% implies expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector. While the index dipped 1.8 percentage points from October, a seventh straight monthly increase was recorded with the index now in expansion territory for six consecutive months.
Other recent manufacturing data includes industrial production, which rose 1.1% in October but remains 5.6% below the pre-pandemic levels of February. The reading was 5.3% lower year-over-year but better than the prior three months, which all saw 6.7% declines. Capacity utilization in the industrial sector improved to 72.8%, 7 percentage points lower than the long-term average but 8.6 points better than the April low.
Shares of SAIA were down more than 1% in midday trading Wednesday compared to the S&P 500, which was flat.