Intermodal Powers Earnings Growth at J.B. Hunt

Intermodal Powers Earnings Growth at J.B. Hunt

Stronger intermodal and trucking demand gave J.B. Hunt Transport Services a fourth quarter boost, with net profit increasing 39 percent to $57.9 million.

The largest U.S. truckload carrier increased sales 16 percent to $1.02 billion, thanks in part to a 13 percent increase in intermodal demand year-over-year.

Intermodal operating income rose 30 percent, and the company's truck division reported a $4.4 million profit, compared with a loss in the 2009 fourth quarter.

The truckload operator's revenue also increased 3.4 percent from the third quarter of last year, while net income increased 10.9 percent quarter-to-quarter.

For the full year, J.B. Hunt's net profit rose 46 percent to $199.6 million on an 18 percent increase in revenue to $3.79 billion, the Lowell, Ark., company said.

"In 2010, we continued our strategic mission of integrating our distinct and complementary services," said John N. Roberts III, president and CEO.

Roberts replaced Kirk Thompson as president and CEO at the end of 2010. Thompson, president of J.B. Hunt for 23 years, is chairman of its board.

"By taking a more 'horizontal view' of the flow of inventory … we see a growing correlation in our ability to provide a higher level of value," Roberts said.

That horizontal view extends across manufacturing and importing to various distribution channels, replenishment and final delivery to the consumer, he said.

Intermodal division revenue rose 20 percent to $588 million on a 13 percent increase in load count and a 2 percent base rate increase and higher fuel surcharges.

Volume on the company's newer eastern intermodal routes grew 23 percent, while its transcontinental volume rose 10 percent year-over-year.

Truck division revenue increased by one tenth of 1 percent to $118 million despite a 10 percent reduction in capacity from the fourth quarter of 2009.

The truck division's rate per mile rose 8 percent year-over-year, boosting its profit to $4.4 million, compared to a $1.3 million loss in the 2009 fourth quarter.

Dedicated Contract Services revenue increased 15 percent to $238 million in the quarter, while its operating profit rose 5 percent to $19.6 million.

Revenue grew 24 percent year-over-year to $83 million at the Integrated Capacity Solutions division, which had a $3.3 million operating profit -- up 89 percent.

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com.