Yellow logs February tonnage decline; LTL recovery appears intact

Industrial data suggests LTL tonnage dip in February a blip

Less-than-truckload provider Yellow Corp. (NASDAQ: YELL), formerly YRC Worldwide, announced Monday tonnage fell 5.5% year-over-year in February following a 2.5% increase in January. Revenue per hundredweight, or yield, was up 6.3% in February, significantly higher than the 1.8% increase in January.  

The Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier’s tonnage reversal was largely due to severe winter storms, which impacted operations at 215 of the company’s 327 freight terminals. A press release said nearly all of the company’s facilities have returned to normal operations.

Yellow’s shipments in February fell 4.8% year-over-year with weight per shipment down 0.8%.

For February, ArcBest Corp. (NASDAQ: ARCB) had a roughly 7% year-over-year decline in tonnage, with Saia Inc. (NASDAQ: SAIA) reporting a 2.3% decline. By comparison, Old Dominion Freight Line (NASDAQ: ODFL) emerged from the month relatively unscathed, posting a 5.9% increase, still notably lower than its 11.9% increase in January.

Table: Company reports

While the group posted a rough month, it appears a continuation in the LTL freight recovery remains in progress.

A February survey of manufacturing supply executives increased again, logging its ninth consecutive month in growth territory. The 60.8% reading from the Purchasing Managers’ Index was the highest level of this freight cycle and firmly above the all-important 50% threshold, which indicates expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

For many LTL carriers, the manufacturing segment can represent more than 80% of tonnage, and LTL shipments historically lag the index by three months.

The latest reading for industrial production showed a 0.9% sequential improvement in January with manufacturing output increasing 1%, according to the Federal Reserve. It was the fourth consecutive monthly increase for the dataset. The year-over-year comparison was 1.8% lower, but the negative comps to 2020 have continued to decline.

Citing high demand, Yellow recently announced that it was adding 1,500 drivers and opening 12 new driver schools.


Click for more FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden.