It's been just over two months since I last took you through a detailed look at the wide, wide world of American trucking -- and concluded that one of the best ways to play a revival in the U.S. economy, and in the truckers that carry it on their backs, would be to invest in shares of truck-builder Navistar
Turns out, that was pretty good advice, as shares of Navistar have surged 27.5% in value against a mere 9.8% rise in the S&P 500. But if you expect me to take a victory lap today -- don't. Because it also turns out that I was very wrong about another company. Shares of YRC Worldwide
So, was I wrong about YRC?
Maybe yes, maybe no
If you take the company as a proxy for the whole of American trucking, I may well be wrong. On Tuesday, the American Trucking Associations reported that truck tonnage volumes in December hit their highest level since mid-2008, rebounding from a November drop-off. At "111.6," the ATA's advance index of "for-hire" truck tonnage is up 11.6% over year 2000 levels, and grew 4.2% year over year from December 2009.
On the other hand, ATA also noted that truck tonnage for 2010 as a whole was up 5.7% from 2009 levels. Also significant for investors, transportation companies benefitting from the trend aren't sharing equally in the wealth. Competitor UPS
Commenting on the index results, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello opined: "the economy is not growing across the board yet." Still, Costello tells us to expect "modest" growth in the first half of this year, and accelerating growth towards the end of 2011.
That'll be great news if YRC can capitalize on the trend. For the time being, however, this trucker remains stuck in neutral -- its stock price notwithstanding.
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