Trucker bankruptcies up 16% in January

The number of seasonally adjusted trucker bankruptcy filings was 16% higher year-over-year in January. Bear Stearns said its seasonally adjusted index deteriorated modestly to 43 in January from 37 in December.

“Our proprietary index yields multiple signals, including strength in our companies’ end markets and the direction/magnitude of potential year-over-year changes in the loss provisions of the truck OEMs’ captive finance subsidiaries,” Bear Stearns said in a release.

“We’ve noticed a more pronounced correlation between year-over-year declines in ATA truck tonnage and gradually rising fleet bankruptcies since the October 17, 2005, bankruptcy law changes grand-fathered in three months ago. Generally, this should be the case, although the regulatory changes in late 2005 had clouded the data for a period. We anticipate a modest continued rise in bankruptcies near-term into both a seasonal and cyclical slowing of freight.

“What does it mean for the group? Gradually rising fleet bankruptcies, lower year-over-year freight, and the post-emissions ‘pay-back’ all point to continued softness in Class 8 orders near term. From a stock perspective, we think that’s more than obvious at this point, and recently our focus has turned to anticipating an eventual order rebound ahead of the next emissions deadline. We believe the stocks will reflect the rebound before it shows up in the order data.”

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