UPDATE 2-JB Hunt reports higher Q3 profit, shares up
* Shares up 4 percent in after-hours tradingOct 13 (Reuters) - J.B. Hunt Transport Services reported higher quarterly profit that slightly beat Wall Street estimates, driven by double-digit revenue growth in three of its four divisions.Shares in J.B. Hunt gained about 4 percent in after-hours trading after the Lowell, Arkansas-based freight transport company reported its third-quarter net income rose to $68.7 million, or 57 cents a share, from $52.2 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier.Analysts, on average, had expected profit of 56 cents a share, according to Thomsom Reuters I/B/E/S.The increase was due mainly to higher revenue, a reduced charitable contribution expense and other cost reductions, the company said in a statement.Total operating revenue rose 19 percent to $1.17 billion from $986 million a year ago, matching the average forecast.”We continued to invest capital in businesses that show resiliency despite the ongoing concern many have expressed about the economy,” Chief Executive John N. Roberts said in the statement.There was double-digit revenue and operating income growth in the intermodal (JBI), dedicated contract services (DCS) and integrated capacity solutions (ICS) segments.Intermodal refers to shipments of goods in containers that can be moved from one form or transportation to another, such as from truck to train.Revenue in this segment, the company’s biggest, rose 24 percent to $691 million on higher volume despite severe Northeast weather in the quarter, on fuel surcharge increases and a 4 percent rate increase excluding the fuel surcharge, J.B. Hunt said.”The improvement in overall operating income can be partially attributed to a reduction in the number of empty repositioning moves compared to the third quarter 2010, due to the later start to peak shipping season and additional container capacity,” the company said in its statement.The truck segment performance lagged, with a 2 percent rise in revenue to $127 million. Excluding fuel surcharges, revenue fell 5 percent on a 7 percent drop in tractor count.J.B. Hunt said it had more debt outstanding at the end of the quarter than a year earlier — $768 million compared with $649 million.It had $7.7 million in cash and cash equivalents, and repurchased about 4 million shares during the third quarter.The company’s shares ended down 1.3 percent at $38.89, down nearly 5 percent so far this year, having traded as low as $34.42 in September. In after-hours trading, the share price was up 4 percent at $40.50.This year’s share price drop is about half the decline in the Dow Jones Transportation average .