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J.B. Hunt “quite pleased” with 2008 Q1 performance

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America, has announced 2008 first quarter net earnings of $36.4m, or diluted earnings per share of 28 cents, compared with 2007 first quarter earnings of $44.2m, or 30 cents per diluted share.

The US-based company's total operating revenue for the latest quarter was $878m, a 10% increase over the $797m achieved in the first quarter of 2007.

"The increase in operating revenue was partially attributable to higher intermodal volumes and significant growth in our integrated capacity solutions (ICS) segment, which more than offset a reduction of revenue in our truck segment," stated J.B. Hunt. "The significant decline in this random, truckload business was primarily due to our actions to reduce the size of the applicable tractor fleet and weaker demand."

"Revenue in our dedicated segment was up slightly in the current quarter versus the comparable period in 2007. Significantly higher fuel surcharge revenues in the current quarter versus the same period in 2007, also increased revenue. Current quarter operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 3% over the first quarter of 2007."

Operating income for the current quarter declined to $72.1m versus $80.4m for the first quarter 2007. "This decline was primarily due to an $11.5m decline in our truck segment operating income." Net earnings declined in the latest quarter versus 2007 due to lower operating income and an increase in net interest expense, reported the company. Total debt was $865m at March 31, 2008 versus $449m at March 31, 2007.

"Given the unprecedented rise in fuel prices during the first quarter 2008 and extreme weakness in freight demand in our truck segment, we are actually quite pleased with the relative performance of our company," commented said J.B. Hunt president and CEO Kirk Thompson.

"In what may be recorded as the worst freight recession in a long time, our diversified transportation model of providing excellent service and value creation to our customers has held up exceptionally well. We continue to move further away from an asset-heavy truckload model to a more variable cost structure, which should produce free-cash flow and feature transportation services that reflect our competitive advantages."

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Source: J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc


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