Many of the nation's major trucking companies are expected to post higher fourth-quarter 2002 profits, benefiting from the recovering economy and industry consolidation.
According to a report by Dow Jones, the quarter looks particularly promising for LTL carriers, in part due to the collapse of Consolidated Freightways Corp., which shut its doors in September.
The report said truckload carriers might have potentially positive earnings as well, thanks to strong earnings reported by large retailers such as Wal-Mart and due to the October reopening of the West Coast ports.
Carriers including Swift Transportation Co. and Knight Transportation Inc. are expected to deliver strong results as they make up for business lost during the 10-day port shutdown by hauling expedited freight at premium rates.
However, analysts said carriers relying on the retail sector in the first-quarter '03 would be disappointed because poor holiday sales discouraged stores from restocking their shelves.
Also, Teamster contracts at Yellow Corp., Roadway Corp. and Arkansas Best Corp. will be up for renewal in April, and analysts said failure to reach an agreement in the weeks ahead could scare away some customers.