The economy might be slowing down, but this company keeps roaring ahead, no matter what: JB Hunt Transport Services' (NAS: JBHT) strong top- and bottom-line growth says a lot about the company.
But does it say everything? What should be your next move on this transportation logistics company?
JB posted third-quarter net income of $68.7 million on revenues of $1.17 billion, according to the company's just-released earnings report. Higher revenues in all four segments helped JB's top line grow by a robust 19% from last year. The two biggest segments, accounting for 80% of JB's revenues, logged double-digit year-over-year growth.
JB's biggest segment, intermodal -- which manages freight between different modes of transportation -- grew revenues at a strong 24% as load volumes and fuel surcharges increased. DCS, the supply-chain solutions segment, saw revenues increase by 16% as new contracts fell into its lap.
The intermodal segment continues to be JB's strength, contributing a whopping 66% the total operating income of $119 million. Strong top-line growth helped JB report net profit 32% higher than that of last year's third quarter.
The fuel game
Freight companies have a unique advantage when it comes to the roller-coaster rides fuel prices play. Cooling fuel prices lower costs as well as boost freight volumes for companies like JB, especially in its trucking segment.
But the really interesting part is that these companies can make money even out of rising fuel prices. They simply pass on higher costs to customers in the form of fuel surcharges, which is an important revenue component for truckers. Fuel surcharges accounted for more than 19% of JB's total revenues this quarter. Peer Con-way's (NYS: CNW) second-quarter revenues were also pushed up by higher fuel surcharges.
This advantage is unique, and whether fuel prices rise or fall, truckers can blend it positively into their operations to their advantage.
What works and will work for JB?
I mentioned in an earlier article how intermodal growth is one positive sign to watch out for. This segment has been contributing the most to JB's revenues, and what's more important is how this area is coming up in a big way. Intermodal involves multiple-modal freight movement, and this mode has caught the eye of most companies involved in transportation.
Railroad giant CSX (NYS: CSX) , for instance, has recently invested $15 million in setting up an intermodal project in Kentucky to tap the growth opportunity. Union Pacific's (NYS: UNP) management also expects strong intermodal volume growth and has continuously ramped up investment in the same. Its new railroad facility also has an intermodal ramp in it.
Now, with U.S. intermodal traffic rising (it went up by 4.4% and 2.4% year-on-year in the first and second weeks of October, respectively), these companies seem to be on the right track.
The Foolish bottom line
JB's performance is solid, and so is its line of business. Growing load volumes suggest no signs of slowing down for JB in spite of economic hiccups. JB's dividend yield is modest at 1.2%, but it has also repurchased shares, thus returning value to shareholders. This company looks poised to charge ahead strongly.
Keep up with JB by adding it to yourstock Watchlist.
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Neha Chamaria owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article.Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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