Fleet Management

Earnings Watch: J.B. Hunt Profit Increases Nearly 9%

April 18, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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The first quarter earnings reporting season got underway in trucking on Monday, as J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT) posted 8.9% higher profits from a year earlier on 6% more revenue, led by logistics and dedicated segments.

Net earnings totaled $100.1 million as revenue increased to $1.53 billion. Earnings per share rose to 88 cents from 78 cents a year earlier, beating many analysts' expectations.

Total operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 12.9% compared to first quarter 2015, to $1.43 billion, for the Arkansas-based company.

Operating income for the current quarter totaled $168 million, versus $155 million for the first quarter 2015.

The company said in a statement, “Benefits from volume growth, improved network operations, higher equipment utilization, lower equipment maintenance costs and increased contract pricing established throughout 2015 across all business units was partially offset by increased rail purchased transportation costs, higher driver wages and recruiting costs, increased equipment ownership costs and increased costs from corporate-wide technology upgrades."

J.B. Hunt’s intermodal business reported revenue increased 6% to $895 million. However, operating income slipped 1% to $103.1 million, as load volumes grew 12% over the same period last year.

The company's Eastern network saw load growth of 13% and transcontinental loads grew 11% compared to a year ago, as West Coast port volumes returned to a more normal level and rail service significantly improved, the company said.

The current period ended with approximately 79,800 units of trailing capacity and 5,160 power units assigned to the dray fleet, according to J.B. Hunt.

Its dedicated services saw revenue increase 4% to $358 million while operating income jumped 25% to $44.8 million.

“Productivity, defined as revenue per truck per week, was down approximately 2% versus 2015, primarily from lower fuel surcharges,” the company said. “Productivity excluding fuel surcharges was up approximately 3% from improved overall operational efficiencies, including better integration of assets between customer accounts, fewer unseated trucks, increased customer supply chain fluidity and load counts from a less severe winter and customer rate increases.”

The operation had a net additional 345 revenue-producing trucks compared to a year earlier, according to the company.

The J.B. Hunt’s third-party logistics and brokerage business, Integrated Capacity Solutions, saw revenue increase 12% to $183 million while operating income skyrocketed 63% to $10.8 million.

“Volumes increased 45%, while revenue per load decreased 23% primarily due to lower fuel prices and freight mix changes driven by customer demand,” the company said. “Spot volumes increased 51% and contractual business load counts increased 42% from a year ago.”

Also, ICS’s gross profit margin increased to 17.3% in the current quarter compared to 13.7% last year, primarily due to rate increases on contractual business, according to the company.

J.B. Hunt’s trucking segment showed a 5% increase in revenue, totaling $96 million, while revenue improved 8% to $9.2 million.

“Revenue excluding fuel surcharge increased 12% primarily from a 12% increase in fleet count,” the company said. “Rates per loaded mile excluding fuel surcharges were down 1.7%, primarily from customer driven freight mix changes, including a 4% increase in length of haul and an increase in spot market loads accepted as the network is reconfigured. Core customer rate increases were up 2.3% compared to the same period in 2015.

At the end of the current quarter J.B. Hunt trucking operated 2,270 tractors compared to 2,020 in 2015.

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