Today’s pickup: With earnings season drawing to a close, there were a few themes throughout trucking

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

WhenArcBest releases its earnings later today, it wraps up the vast majority of releases from truckload, LTL and 3PL companies for the first quarter. Having listened in to many of the earnings calls, as well as reading the releases of those companies who didn’t have a call with analysts, there are a few takeaways. First, almost everybody had a terrific quarter and is expecting these conditions to last through the year. Second, the driver shortage is real but we didn’t hear anybody declare they are throttling back their growth projections because of it, though several analysts did ask that question. Third—and this is obviously tied to the driver squeeze—if a company needed to go into the market to acquire capacity to fulfill contractual obligations, it didn’t work out too well financially. Fourth, there was no consensus on whether the ELD mandate is impacting capacity, with statements diametrically opposed—“yes, it is” vs. “no, it isn’t”—heard often.

Did you know?

BLS data shows that the producer price index for general freight trucking services remained unchanged in for the second consecutive month in April, with both long-distance truckload and LTL registering only small changes in March. 


(Teamsters leaders Denis Taylor) “refuses to stand up to the company or to tell members the truth about contract negotiations, so he is lashing out at his own negotiating committee instead.”

–A statement by the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, criticizing Teamsters leadership for ousting three members of the union’s negotiating committee, apparently over the issue of pay rates for new Sunday drivers at UPS.

In other news:

More conflict in the Los Angeles-Long Beach drayage market

A California port trucking company is having its FTZ status threatened by an action of a local government. (Long Beach Press-Telegram)

Ford’s supply line for F-150 trucks hit by contractor fire

A fire at a die cast maker is having an enormous ripple effect through the supply chain for Ford’s F-150 trucks. (Wall Street Journal)

Tight capacity on the water

There’s a significant squeeze in the market for ships, and one workhorse type of boat is “sold out” for the foreseeable future. (The Loadstar)

Changing the rules for insurance in Colorado

A recently-signed piece of legislation in Colorado will change the definitions of required insurance for independent operators in that state. (LandLine)

I wouldn’t give you ten cents for this story

Buddy, can you spare a dime? This overturned truck had lots of them. (Las Vegas Review-Journal).

Final Thoughts:

The battle at the Teamsters regarding the UPS contract is fascinating because it brings in so many broader economic issues. There’s the need for a company—UPS—to keep up with changing economic demands by adding Sunday delivery; it added Saturdays last year. That means hiring into a tight market, but maybe with some part-time workers. What do you pay them? And can there be enough part-time workers when there are so many increasing full-time opportunities all through the economy? Finally, how does a union protect what it has fought for while still bending with changing economic trends? It will be one to watch.

Hammer down everyone!

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.