ArcBest had a fantastic third quarter, and we’re here to break it down for you. The transportation and logistics provider surpassed expectations, thanks to a boost in volumes and yields, which they attribute to the closure of former competitor Yellow Corp.
In their recent report before the market opened, ArcBest (NASDAQ: ARCB) announced adjusted earnings per share for the third quarter at $2.31. That’s not only well above the $1.50 estimate but also shows the resilience of the company, even in the face of a 39% year-over-year decrease. Keep in mind, this number doesn’t include some specific costs, like those from a freight handling pilot, acquisition-related items, and noncash impairments on certain leases.
Now, here’s the interesting part: ArcBest’s asset-based unit, which handles less-than-truckload operations, saw a whopping 20% increase in shipments at its core accounts compared to the second quarter. However, the new freight they’re moving is lighter than the transactional shipments they used to transport before Yellow’s exit.
The asset-based unit did report a 6% year-over-year decline in revenue, reaching $741 million. The reason? Tonnage per day was down 6%, but revenue per hundredweight (also known as yield) increased by 2%. The decrease in tonnage was due to a 2% increase in daily shipments and an 8% decrease in the weight per shipment.
The yield on less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments went up by a mid-single-digit percentage when you exclude fuel surcharges. ArcBest credits this improvement to a “reduction in LTL industry carrier capacity.” On average, contract renewals and deferred pricing agreements increased by 4% in the quarter.
To keep the momentum going, ArcBest implemented a 5.9% general rate increase on base rate tariffs on October 2.
Now, let’s look at revenue trends. In July, the revenue per day was down by 11%, but it was flat by September. The good news is that in October, the segment’s revenue is up by 5% year over year, even though tonnage is down 4%. The primary reason for this boost in the yield metric is the 8% decline in weight per shipment.
Compared to the second quarter, asset-based revenue is up by 3%, even though tonnage dropped by 12%. The yield, however, improved by an impressive 16%.
The asset-based segment reported an adjusted operating ratio (OR) of 88.8%, which was 350 basis points worse year over year. However, when compared to the second quarter, the adjusted OR improved by 400 basis points. The company attributes this positive shift to “network cost savings actions” taken during the third quarter.