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J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Reports Earnings for the Second Quarter 2017 and Updates Full Year 2017 Expectations

LOWELL, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., (NASDAQ: JBHT) announced second quarter 2017 net earnings of $97.9 million, or diluted earnings per share of 88 cents vs. second quarter 2016 net earnings of $105 million, or 92 cents per diluted share.

Total operating revenue for the current quarter was $1.73 billion, compared with $1.62 billion for the second quarter 2016, an increase of 7%. Current quarter total operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 5% vs. the comparable quarter 2016. Load growth of 5% in Intermodal (JBI), a 5% increase in revenue producing trucks in Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) and a 20% increase in volume in Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS) contributed to the increase in consolidated revenue compared to prior year.

Operating income for the current quarter totaled $164 million versus $176 million for the second quarter 2016. The benefits of volume growth and increases in revenue producing truck counts were substantially offset by lower customer rates, increases in rail and over the road purchased transportation costs, start-up costs associated with new DCS contracts, higher driver wages and recruiting costs, increased insurance and claims costs, increased equipment and facility maintenance costs and increased technology costs.

Interest expense in the current quarter increased due to higher interest rates compared to the same period last year. The effective income tax rate for the quarter was 37.4% versus 38.0% for the second quarter 2016. The 2017 annual tax rate is expected to be approximately 35.0% primarily from the one-time tax benefit recognized in the first quarter 2017.

The Company posted revised full year 2017 Financial Expectations on its website under the Investors tab at

Segment Information:

Intermodal (JBI)

JBI load volumes grew 5% over the same period in 2016. Transcontinental loads grew 10% while Eastern network volumes were down 2% compared to a year ago. Revenue increased 7% reflecting the 5% volume growth and an approximate 2% increase in revenue per load, which is the combination of customer rate changes, fuel surcharges and freight mix. Revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharge revenue decreased 1% from second quarter 2016.

Operating income increased 4% from prior year. Benefits from volume growth and dray fleet productivity were offset by cost increases in rail purchased transportation, driver pay and retention costs, driver recruiting costs, technology development and modernization costs and equipment ownership costs. The current period ended with approximately 85,600 units of trailing capacity and 5,300 power units assigned to the dray fleet.

Dedicated Contract Services (DCS)

DCS revenue increased 8% during the current quarter over the same period in 2016. Productivity, defined as revenue per truck per week, increased approximately 2% vs. 2016. Productivity excluding fuel surcharges was flat over a year ago. Increased revenue from better integration of assets between customer accounts and customer rate increases was partially offset by lower productivity at new contracts implemented during the current quarter. A net additional 486 revenue producing trucks, 226 net additions compared to first quarter 2017, were in the fleet by the end of the quarter compared to prior year. Approximately 71% of these additions represent private fleet conversions versus traditional dedicated capacity fleets. Customer retention rates remain above 98%.

Operating income decreased 4% over the prior year quarter primarily from increases in driver wages, increased accident frequency driving higher insurance and claims costs and higher start-up expenses for new customer contracts compared to the second quarter 2016.

Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS)

ICS revenue was up 9% compared to the second quarter 2016. Volumes increased 20% while revenue per load decreased 9%, primarily due to freight mix changes driven by customer demand, compared to second quarter 2016. Spot volumes increased 20% and contractual volumes increased 22% from a year ago. Contractual volumes represented approximately 73% of total load volume and 58% of total revenue compared to 72% and 65%, respectively, in second quarter 2016.

Operating income decreased 102% over the same period 2016 primarily from lower gross profit margins, increased claims cost, a higher number of branches open less than two years (16 vs. 10 in 2016), and higher technology development costs. Gross profit margins decreased to 11.6% in the current quarter versus 15.0% in the same period last year. The decrease in gross margin percentage is primarily the result of higher purchased transportation costs on dry van volumes that outpaced customer rate increases implemented on contractual business compared to second quarter 2016. Total branch count increased to 42 from 35 at second quarter 2016. The carrier base increased 9% and the employee count increased 21% vs. second quarter 2016.

Truck (JBT)

JBT revenue for the current quarter was down 4% compared to the same period in 2016. Revenue excluding fuel surcharges decreased 6% from a year ago. Rate per loaded mile excluding fuel surcharges was up approximately 0.9% primarily from customer driven freight mix changes, including a 6.3% decrease in length of haul. Customer contract rates decreased approximately 0.4% compared to the same period in 2016. At the end of the period, JBT operated 2,072 tractors compared to 2,186 a year...