We'll take that occasion to once again present some interesting comparisons on operating metrics across each of these three modes in Q1, as shown in the graphic below.
|Q1 2014 US Operating Metrics by Mode
|Average Net Income as a Percent of Sales
|Best Net Income as a Percent of Sales
|Average Operating Ratio
|Best Operating Ratio
|Source: SCDigest Analysis
As can be seen, rail carriers as a group are simply far more profitable than truckload or LTL carriers. The average operating ratio, or operating expenses divided by operating revenue, a key metric in the transportation sector, for the rail carriers is an astounding 21 percentage points better than for truckload carriers and almost 26 percentage points better than the profit challenged LTL sector.
Note: The "average" operating ratio per mode is unweighted, meaning for example that to calculate this number for the truckload sector, we simply add the operating ratios of the sevel TL carriers we follow and then divide by seven. Size of the carrier in revenues is not factored in.
In LTL, however, one has be impressed with on-going numbers posted by Old Dominion, which continues to far outperform the rest of the LTL market. It came in with an OR 10 percentage points points better than the LTL sector average, and was even more than 5 percentage points better than the truckload sector average.
Union Pacific, by the way, has promised reiterated to reach a full-year operating ratio of under 65% before 2017, and seems well on its way to doing so.