Power 25: 3 Forwarders to Watch in 2019

CEVA Logistics (No. 13)

For the last several years, CEVA Logistics has struggled to control its mounting debt issues. Then, less than a month after its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) on the Swiss stock exchange in April of this year, the Dutch logistics firm raised about US$1.2 billion and released generally positive figures for the first quarter of 2018, suggesting a turning point in CEVA’s history on the Power 25. With the cash infusion from the IPO, CEVA said it has initiated the process of repaying debt with the net proceeds. The company’s Air Freight sector was particularly strong in Q1, with an increase in revenues of 21.8 percent, y-o-y, while yields rose a healthy 17.1 percent, y-o-y, driven by “better procurement and active margin management,” the company said. Revenue in CEVA’s Freight Management business reached $803 million in Q1 2018, an increase of 14.4 percent, y-o-y, or 8.7 percent in constant currency, thanks to “good volumes, new business wins and higher freight rates, notably in Air,” the company said. “We have further improved productivity and reduced cost,” said CEVA CEO Xavier Urbain. “The successful IPO opens a new chapter for CEVA. I am confident that we can further improve margins and deliver significant earnings growth in the years to come  – our target is to improve adjusted EBITDA by $100 million in the medium-term.” CEVA held steady at No. 13, despite a 14 percent rise in 2017 tonnage. But could this middle-of-the-pack 3PL crack the top 10 next year? Stay tuned.

Apex Logistics (No. 19)

Just last year, China-based Apex Logistics was welcomed to the Power 25 list for the first time, at No.21. For fiscal year 2017, the company achieved some more remarkable growth, with 320,000 tonnes of cargo handled, representing a 23 percent increase, y-o-y, and a two-spot rise in rank to No. 19. Over the past year, Apex has seen an increase in volumes of hot-selling cross-border commodities by air, including perishables, such as blueberries, cherries and salmon from the Americas. Volumes were so robust that, in late 2017, Apex Logistics began organizing thrice-weekly scheduled freighter services between Chicago and Wuhan’s Tianhe Airport in Central China. The flights utilize a 747-400F operated by Kalitta Airlines. “Apex started out as a real charter wholesaler company, but now they’ve really changed over the last three years,” said Evan Armstrong, of Armstrong & Associates. “They are supporting a lot of e-commerce fulfillment business that is exported out of the U.S. and imported into China,” and working with some of China’s biggest e-tailers. Plus, Armstrong added, Apex has a ground delivery network within China, called ECMS, giving it an “integrated airfreight forwarding and last-mile delivery network.” This combination, explains Apex’s 38 percent increase on the revenue side in 2017. “They’re getting more recognition for having skills in that area,” he said. “So that’s really paying off for them.”

C.H. Robinson (not listed)

With 175,000 tonnes of air cargo handled in 2017, Minnesota-based C.H. Robinson was just off the pace of the Power 25 in terms of traffic. But thanks to last year’s US$50 million acquisition of Canadian forwarder and customs broker Milgram & Co., plus the launch of its Navisphere Vision supply chain management system, Armstrong said C.H. Robinson grew its gross revenue by 35 percent last year and its net revenue by 22 percent, and could be poised for another strong year of growth that may be enough the propel them to the Power 25 list in 2019. The company’s global freight-forwarding revenues are now up to $2.2 billion, in terms of turnover, with $485 million in net revenues. “They are much bigger in the ocean than in air, but if they keep growing like that, they’re probably going to make this list at some point,” Armstrong said. “They’re still pretty far back in the pack, but they’re getting closer.”

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