Grim numbers in the 3PL sector for Q1 2016

Organic growth in the third-party logistics (3PL) market is down 8.9 percent, year-over-year, for the first quarter of 2016, according to a report from ARC Advisory Group. These numbers, which do not include the effects of acquisitions, reflect dismal quarterly results from industry heavyweights, such as DHL Supply Chain and Global Forwarding, which declined from US$8.7 billion in Q1 2015 to $7.4 billion this year – down 15.1 percent, year-over-year.

This slew of negative numbers is partly the result of Q1 2015’s abnormally robust air cargo figures due to the port disruptions on the U.S. West Coast. However, even taking the port crisis into consideration, these Q1 numbers reflect an underlying malaise in the sector. Meanwhile, the energy price slump is dragging into its second year, decreasing demand for oil and gas-related traffic. ARC also noted that the currency effect was a factor, with some companies reporting growth in currencies that reflect negatively when converted to U.S. dollars due to currency fluctuations.

By category, ARC estimated that domestic transportation services – consisting of brokerage/domestic freight forwarding and managed transportation services – contracted by 3.5 percent. Warehousing services contracted by 5.7 percent. In international transportation services – which includes international freight forwarding and custom services – the sector contracted by 9.5 percent.

DHL’s woeful numbers were indicative of the extent of contraction, with other 3PL players such as Agility, which posted a 21.5 percent, y-o-y, decline, and DSV, down 25.4 percent, y-o-y, faring even worse.

Other companies fared better. XPO Logistics saw their revenues surge from $2.2 billion to $2.7 billion, y-o-y, for the same quarter. Ryder and J.B. Hunt also posted strong numbers, but their growth was, ultimately, not enough to offset the general decline across the sector.

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