J.B. Hunt Transport Services said Thursday, Oct. 11, that net earnings for the third quarter were $50.8 million, compared with $57.8 million for the same period of 2006. Total third-quarter operating revenue was $892 million, up 4 percent from $858 million during the same quarter last year. For the first nine months of the year, net income was $158.8 million, down from $162.1 million for the same period last year.
“In the early part of this decade, we embarked upon a plan to dramatically improve our margins, our return on invested capital, our returns to shareholders and our free cash flow,” said Kirk Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt. “While our shrinking truck business is currently showing the strains of a depressed freight economy, we have experienced tremendous success at accomplishing our previously established goals. To post a sub-90 percent operating ratio in this environment and generate earnings of $51 million is an achievement that confirms our strategy. It appears we have also accomplished our goal of becoming less cyclical in earnings.”
For the quarter, the company’s intermodal segment reported revenue of $429 million, up 17 percent, but the dedicated contract services segment, with revenue of $237 million, was down 1 percent. The trucking segment saw revenue decline 16 percent to $208 million, while integrated capacity solutions improved 146 percent to $26 million.
“Frankly, we can’t be too disappointed in the level of earnings power the company has in a particularly difficult environment,” Thompson said. “Our intermodal business clearly represents the foundation of our earnings resiliency and demonstrates that our company is no longer driven by the cyclicality typical of a truckload model.”