Tony Mulvey

Intermodal markets: JBHT and KCS earnings on Friday

On Friday, we’ll hear third-quarter financial results from two important players in the intermodal industry: J.B. Hunt and Kansas City Southern (KCS). In our view, the most important issues at stake are the degree to which the respective management teams believe the COVID-juiced surge in intermodal volumes is sustainable into

By |October 14th, 2020|Intermodal, News, Rail|

Intermodal markets: Escape from LA

Another wave of rate and service volatility, the product of high volumes and tight capacity, will work its way through the country from its source in Southern California. Rates out of Los Angeles spiked as intermodal tender rejection rates, which only come into play during periods of serious disruption, are

By |October 9th, 2020|Intermodal, News, Rail|

Intermodal markets: Rolling strong into Q4

Intermodal volumes were still up mid-single digits in Week 39 (up 5.5% year-over-year), even as railroads raise prices on shippers and intermodal marketing companies and congestion at Southern Californian ports worsens.   Ocean bookings data, particularly on the trans-Pacific, indicates that imports will stay strong for at least the next

By |September 30th, 2020|Intermodal, News, Rail|

Intermodal markets: The trouble with service

Average intermodal train velocities improved by 1.2 mph compared to last week while dwell times were flat, but those numbers don’t capture the full reality of the service as experienced by shippers.   Railroads adjust equipment fleets, power and crew starts to maintain operating leverage in response to rising and

By |September 23rd, 2020|Intermodal, News, Rail|

Reefer markets: Expecting a strong finish to 2020

The reefer market is following the dry van market, broadly speaking, and setting new highs in tendered loads, tender rejections and spot rates. The average reefer spot rate on’s load boards rose to $3.33/mile last week, the highest rate in several years.   Reefer capacity is tighter now than

By |September 10th, 2020|3PLs, Featured, Trucking|

Trucking markets: Brokers lose control of spot rates

It’s official: Freight brokers have officially lost control of truckload spot rates. One of the most commonly cited benchmarks in the freight brokerage industry is the important, dense and liquid Chicago to Atlanta lane, which most brokers worth their salt can quote in their sleep. Long suppressed by carrier density

By |September 8th, 2020|3PLs, Trucking|

Intermodal markets: Under pressure

U.S. Class I railroads have largely arrested declines in average intermodal train velocity and lengthening terminal dwell times, but they’re doing so by punishing shippers for tendering surge and spot volumes.    Union Pacific has imposed surcharges of $5,000 on spot intermodal containers outbound from California because previous rate hikes

By |September 2nd, 2020|Intermodal, News, Rail|

The SPAC boom

For the past six or seven years, an important growth driver of large private equity funds was the fact that private company valuations were higher than public market valuations, so investors and employees of companies had incentives to stay private longer.   But in the past two years, technology company

By |August 28th, 2020|Featured, Financials, Special Topic|

Asset operators: Revenues recover, but what about costs?

The business environment for asset-based trucking carriers continues to improve: Empty mile percentages are lower and revenue per driver per week is up. There are headwinds blowing against asset operators, though: The rack-to-retail diesel fuel spread is no longer doing much work on the carriers’ income statements, and operating expenses

By |August 27th, 2020|Carrier Outlook, Special Topic, Trucking|

Intermodal markets: Volumes up 5% with room to run

Intermodal volumes for the U.S. Class Is were up 5% year-over-year in week 24, led by an 8.1% increase in Union Pacific volumes and 8% growth in CSX. Kansas City Southern’s intermodal volumes were up 12.8% year-over-year, but on a smaller base. (KSC moved 11,477 units versus UNP’s 77,457.)  

By |August 26th, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|

Please Mr. Postman

Two things can be true at the same time: The United States Postal Service is an invaluable public service crucial to the transportation of pharmaceuticals, official documents and much else, and it’s also in an unsustainable position and in need of a turnaround.   Many people are aware of the

By |August 21st, 2020|Featured, Most Popular, News, Shippers, Special Topic|

Intermodal Markets: Operating leverage first

Consider the fact that across Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern, headcount was down 16.6% year-over-year in July (less negative than June’s -17.9%), yet last week intermodal volumes were up 1.9% year-over-year for the second week in a row.   In particular, the best intermodal volume growth has been

By |August 19th, 2020|Intermodal, Rail|