Nearly all sectors in the transport industry recorded turnover increases in the first quarter of 2014, with the one exception of freight forwarders. These intermediaries for shipping and haulage transport were hit by falling turnovers as early as the last quarter of 2013 and have been looking at the same trend in 2014.
The first three months of 2014 saw turnover in this sector drop by 3.7% on 2013 numbers. In 2012 and 2013, by contrast, freight forwarders were still notching up tidy increases in turnover, but the trend reversed in the second quarter of 2013.
Tanker trade overcapacity
In the first quarter of 2014, inland shipping edged ahead 0.5% on the comparable quarter of last year. Despite this uptick, we’re concerned about the outlook for a number of submarkets, including the tanker trade, as the increase in new and more efficient vessels has resulted in overcapacity. Stable oil prices are also reducing strategic oil buying and storage, we reckon, while inland shipping tankers previously used for storage purposes are being put back into action. This overcapacity is putting pressure on margins and has brought hard times to some companies.
First-quarter road haulage turnover up 3.7%
Turnover in road haulage has clearly turned the corner, recording a 3.7% increase on 2013 in the first three months of the year. Road haulier sentiment also improved and ABN AMRO reckons higher turnovers will mainly be fed by higher volumes, of which about a third is made up of building materials. It would appear that larger companies benefit more from this volume growth than do smaller ones, as they are proving more adept at controlling costs and operating more efficiently, thus locking in the bulk of the turnover and profit gains in road haulage. ABN AMRO believes that the 2014 recovery in the Netherlands and the eurozone should spark higher transport volumes, despite increasing competition from Eastern Europe. Construction would appear to have bottomed out and retail is reviving. All told, ABN AMRO projects growth of around 1% for the Transport and Logistics sector in 2014. This growth should continue into 2015.