Trucking Company EBITDA & Valuation Multiples – 2023 Report

The following report presents EBITDA and revenue multiples for private trucking companies as of Q3 2023. Our analysts aggregated data from private equity networks, expert interviews, and proprietary databases to compute these averages. (Sources)

Our findings are presented in the tables below, which break down EBITDA and revenue multiples for private trucking companies by industry subsector in addition to EBITDA and revenue range. 

EBITDA Multiples for Private Trucking Companies, Q3 2023

Company Type EBITDA Range
$500k-1M $1-5M $5-10M
Auto Transport 5.4x 6.8x 7.9x
Bulk Transport  4.9x 6.1x 7.2x
Final Mile 5x 6.3x 7x
Food & Beverage 6.6x 8.1x 8.8x
Hazardous Materials 6.7x 8.5x 9.5x
Livestock Hauling 5.8x 7.1x 7.7x
Oil & Gas 6.1x 7.4x 8.3x
Refrigerated 6.2x 7.7x 8.9x

Revenue Multiples for Private Trucking Companies, Q3 2023

Company Type Revenue Range
$1-5M $5-25M $25-100M
Auto Transport 2x 2.3x 2.8x
Bulk Transport  1.7x 2.1x 2.5x
Final Mile 2x 2.4x 2.8x
Food & Beverage 2.7x 3.1x 3.5x
Hazardous Materials 2.4x 2.9x 3.3x
Livestock Hauling 2.1x 2.5x 2.8x
Oil & Gas 2.2x 2.7x 3x
Refrigerated 2.5x 2.8x 3.2x

The following section graphs the trajectory of EBITDA and revenue multiples for private trucking companies over the last 3 years and provides predictions on where trucking M&A will be headed in the coming year.

The State of Trucking M&A

EBITDA multiples for trucking companies have seen some turbulence over the last 3 years. Initial disruptions were primarily due to supply chain complications during the pandemic, however valuations have remained on a modest but steady increase since that time, with averages now sitting at approximately 6-8x EBITDA—nearly at pre-pandemic (2018) highs. 

The chart below illustrates the trajectory of EBITDA multiples for private trucking companies between 2020 and 2023:

The rate at which trucking companies have rebounded since the pandemic has varied depending on whether the company is “asset-based” (i.e. the company owns its own fleet of trucks and/or facilities) or “asset-light” (i.e. the company contracts these services from third parties). While the former makes up the majority of private company M&A deals, the latter tend to get higher valuations. The table below elaborates.

Asset-Based vs Asset-Light Trucking Companies: M&A Considerations

Asset-Based Asset-Light
Pros Owning your fleet allows for greater leverage in negotiations Lower costs & fewer risks stemming from hard assets yields higher valuation multiples
Having control over routing and scheduling, increases reliability and thus, attractiveness to buyers Less capital at risk from needing to invest in a fleet makes the business more scalable and thus more attractive in an M&A environment
Cons Carries greater operational risk since the trucks require almost the same financing and repairs during down periods, leading to fewer M&A deals  An asset-light model is easier to replicate since a buyer doesn’t need to own their own fleet, reducing company valuations
During periods where borrowing is expensive, servicing loans drags down profit, leading to lower valuation multiples  Less control over your fleet can mean lower routing and scheduling reliability, leading to greater risk and thus fewer offers in an M&A process

Acquirers have preferred asset-light companies to asset-based companies for the last decade, however their ability to more effectively weather recent supply chain disruptions—by quickly increasing or decreasing in scale—have made the preference more pronounced. As a result, the gap between the two company types has increased over the last 3 years, with asset-based companies averaging .5x-2x lower EBITDA multiples than their asset-light counterparts.

Moving into 2024, our research team has made the following predictions:

  • Private buyers will continue to prefer asset-light operations. The trend of preferring asset-light over asset-based trucking company began in the public sector and has moved over to the private sector in the last few years. We believe it will not only continue but increase a bit, as lower operational costs are particularly desirable in a high interest rate environment. 
  • Specialized trucking companies will earn a higher value. Economic uncertainty over the last 5 quarters has caused buyers to take greater interest in niche trucking operations, which tend to have stronger client relationships and thus more consistent revenue.
  • Deal volume will increase, but not necessarily deal value. With financing conditions further tightening in Q3 2023, large deals ($100M+) will remain at a minimum. We expect acquirers will expend their dry powder aggregating smaller companies, leading to a YoY increase in private deal volume though H2 2024. With this in mind, representation is key; small-to-midsize trucking companies that retain a knowledgeable M&A advisor stand to gain the most.

Read our rankings of the top M&A firms in the U.S.

Selling your Trucking Company company (CTA)

The complexities of selling a trucking company can make the process stressful for business owners. As someone who has sold several businesses to private equity and strategic buyers, I can attest to that stress on a personal level.

If you are seeking advice before entering the M&A market, I’m happy to provide some third-party feedback. You can reach me at the link below or through the contact page on this site.

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