Thursday, April 15, 2010

Intermodal still paying off big for J.B. Hunt

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J.B. Hunt was the first trucker to team up with railroads to promote intermodal service in a big way, and the resulting success story continues to unfold. Another glowing chapter emerged Wednesday.

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J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. announced first-quarter results that exceeded analysts' expectations with the strongest performance coming from the company’s intermodal segment, where revenue increased 20% to $469 million on a 21% increase in volume.

Given this impetus, J.B Hunt’s net income in the first quarter increased 22% to $37.5 million, or 29 cents a share, from $30.8 million in the same quarter last year. Total operating revenue was $844.7 million, up 17%. Analysts had anticipated revenue of $797.2 million and earnings of 27 cents a share.

J. B. Hunt shares were up 4.3% in early morning trading Thursday.

The company became an intermodal partner of the Santa Fe Railway about 20 years ago, putting its trailers and containers on rail for the long haul and reaping large savings in fuel and driver costs—a strategy that became particularly important in later years when fuel costs soared and driver shortages developed. Intermodal is now the company’s biggest segment.