Tank fleet revenues sag during one of worst recessions
May 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson
TANK fleets struggled during 2009 to minimize the financial damage from one of the worst recessions in US history. In fact, this was the first time since Bulk Transporter began tracking tank truck carrier gross revenues that the industry may have actually shrunk year-over-year.
However, the revenue drop might not have been as severe as it appears in this year's Bulk Transporter Annual Gross Revenue Report. A significant number of tank truck carriers include fuel surcharge payments in their gross revenues. Those surcharges soared during 2008 before falling to nearly zero during 2009. This exaggerated the overall revenue reduction that many carriers reported for this year's analysis. Carriers that do not add surcharges to gross revenues showed a much smaller drop in those revenues.
That said, 2009 was still a tough year for the US tank truck industry, and trucking as a whole. The American Trucking Associations' For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index for 2009 dropped by 8.7%, which was the largest annual decrease since a 12.3% plummet in 1982.
Rates fell as tank truck carriers reported that shipment volumes were down by as much as 40% in some bulk sectors at the height of the recession. Carriers parked equipment and laid off drivers, which added to an overall real unemployment rate that approached 19%.
Three quarters of the carriers participating in this year's Bulk Transporter Annual Gross Revenue Report posted revenues that declined from 2008 to 2009. In contrast, nearly 67% of respondents showed revenue improvement in the previous Annual Gross Revenue Report. Operating ratios also deteriorated for nearly half of the carriers in this year's report.
The Top 10 tank truck carriers were no better than the rest of the industry. All 10 posted lower revenues in 2009. Operating ratios also deteriorated for most of them.
Despite the economy, Kenan Advantage Group Inc was able to leapfrog Quality Distribution Inc into the top spot. The order also shifted for some of the other carriers rounding out the Top 10: Trimac Transportation Inc, Ruan Transport Corp, Superior Bulk Logistics Inc, A&R Transports Inc, Groendyke Transport Inc, Foodliner/Quest Liner Inc, Schneider National Bulk Carriers, and Enterprise Transportation Co.
Combined Top 10 revenues were $2.98 billion in 2009, down from $3.7 billion in 2008. Top 10 revenues in 2009 accounted for 56.1% of the total in the report.
The Top 25 carriers achieved $4.34 billion in revenues, or nearly 82% of the total represented in this report. While that is a decrease compared with $5.2 billion in revenues for the Top 25 in 2008, it shows continued marketshare growth for the larger carriers.
Total 2009 revenues for all 62 carriers in this report were $5,319,428,672. In contrast, those same carriers accounted for a 2008 combined total of $6,353,355,395.
Average revenue in 2009 was $85,797,236, down $12.3 million from the average of $98,099,637 in 2008. The average grew by $7.3 million from 2007 to 2008.
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