Photo: DangApricot via WIkimedia Commons

Photo: DangApricot via WIkimedia Commons

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. announced on Tuesday first quarter 2015 net earnings of $91.9 million, compared to first quarter 2014 net earnings of $68.7 million.

That's diluted earnings of 78 cents per share, compared to 58 cents per share a year ago.

The Arkansas-based freight transportation provider reported total operating revenue for the quarter of $1.44 billion, compared with $1.41 billion a year earlier. Total operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 10%.

“Benefits from customer rate increases, improved asset utilization, lower equipment maintenance costs, improved equipment fuel economy and more effective use of third-party carriers more than offset increases in rail purchase transportation rates, driver wage increases, higher equipment depreciation, increased insurance rates, higher equipment storage costs and higher toll expenses across all business segments,” the company said in a statement.

J.B. Hunt’s trucking division saw first quarter revenue decline 1% to $91 million while operating income jumped 248% to $8.5 million.

Increased truck count, better asset utilization, improved freight lane networks and core customer rate increases of approximately 9% contributed to the improved revenue, excluding fuel surcharge, according to the company. At the end of the current quarter the company operated 2,020 tractors, compared to 1,917 in 2014.

The company’s intermodal segment saw first quarter revenue increase 1% to $844 million while operating income improved 13% to $104.3 million.

Intermodal load volumes grew 6% over the same period 2014. The revenue growth reflects the volume growth and a 5% decrease in revenue per load, which is the combination of customer rate increases, lower fuel surcharges and freight mix, according to the company. Revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharge revenue, increased 3% year-over-year.

The quarter ended with approximately 74,200 units of trailing capacity and 4,900 power units available to the drayage fleet.

J.B. Hunt’s dedicated business saw revenue increase 7% to $345 million while operating income surged 130% to $35.8 million. Its third-party logistics operation revenue was unchanged at $163 million while operating income increased 8% to $6.6 million.