Multi-mode freight transportation provider J.B. Hunt Transport Services on Monday reported first quarter 2014 net earnings of $68.7 million, or diluted earnings per share of 58 cents, compared to first quarter 2013 net earnings of $73.3 million, or 61 cents per diluted share.
Total operating revenue for the current quarter was $1.41 billion, compared with $1.29 billion for the same time a year earlier.
Rail service disruptions and a series of winter storms in the Midwest and Northeast adversely affected load growth in its intermodal operations, according to the company, though operating revenue was 5% over first quarter 2013 levels, but operating income fell 4%.
The company said the same factors crated a tighter trucking market, which helped its brokerage operation, known as Integrated Capacity Solutions, increase load growth by 3% and revenue per load by 29% over the same period in 2013. The segment saw its operating revenue increase 33% during the quarter while operating income gained 18%.
J.B. Hunt’s supply chain business, known as Dedicated Contract Services, increased revenue by 15% over prior year primarily “from 2013 start-ups becoming fully implemented and new contracts signed in the current period,” however, its operating income fell 29%.
Truck operating revenue decreased by 9% due to a 9% reduction in fleet size, mainly from a lack of independent contractors, the company said, but operating income increased 124%.
“It was evident that the weather in the first quarter, particularly in January and February, played a significant role in both our growth and profitability,” said John N. Roberts, III, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt Transport Services. “Feedback from our customers about their business expectations for the remainder of the year gives us encouragement that growth should return to our previously announced ranges. While additional costs incurred this quarter due to the severity of the winter weather should become less pronounced, increases in driver costs, equipment costs and insurance costs are more likely to persist and must be recovered from the marketplace through revenue management in the bid cycles and customer contract discussions.”
More details are on the J.B. Hunt website.