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May 26, 2014

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MAY 26.2014 TOP 100 IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS 64 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE By William B. Cassidy APRIL SHOWERED less-than-truckload car- riers with freight, as shippers responded to a surge in consumer spending in March and increased industrial demand. The Cass Freight Index for April showed domestic freight volumes were up 5.5 percent year- over-year and business spending on truck and rail transportation was 10 percent higher than April 2013. LTL carriers hope shippers will fill trail- ers at a faster pace in May and June, free of the weather-related disruptions that roiled supply chains in the first quarter and sapped some companies' profits, despite rising rev- enue. Many LTL companies released general rate increases earlier than usual this year, and the carriers also are pushing for contractual rate increases in negotiations with shippers. LTL carriers reported strong April gains in freight tonnage and shipments. Old Dominion Freight Line estimated April tonnage jumped 14.5 percent year-over- year, and said it expects about the same rate of increase for the second quarter as a whole. Tonnage at Saia was up nearly 7 percent, including a boost from an Easter holiday that fell 21 days later than in 2013. In its earnings conference call, ABF Freight System reported tonnage was up 6 percent in April, with revenue up 11 percent year- over-year for the month, thanks to pricing that increased about 5 percent. Con-way Freight's tonnage rose 3.3 percent tonnage, but tonnage from local shipper accounts surged 11 percent, compensating for f lat national shipper accounts. At YRC Freight, shipments increased 6 percent in April, after a first quarter decline. "It's too early to tell if it's from real economic growth or pent-up demand from winter," or perhaps a combination, YRC Worldwide CFO Jamie Pierson said in an earnings conference call. CEO James L. Welch said April freight volumes were higher than anticipated. Those April gains were a welcome relief after a winter that cost the U.S. economy at least $5 billion, according to reinsurance firm Aon Benfield. Some of the largest U.S. LTL carriers blamed a range of weather- related operating expenses for first quarter losses or lower profits. YRC Worldwide estimated severe winter weather cost it $20 million in profit. Con-way Freight put LTL Outlook Brightens Growth in consumer spending and industrial demand drives April gains in US domestic freight volumes

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