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J.B. Hunt Transport Services reported higher earnings and revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020, but said income dipped even as revenue rose for the full year.
The Lowell, Ark.-based carrier company on Jan. 19 said Q4 revenue increased 11.8% to nearly $2.74 billion, compared with $2.45 billion a year ago, and said Q4 income rose 6.9% to $154 million, or $1.44 a share, compared with $144.6 million ($1.35) in the same period a year ago.
For the year, J.B. Hunt said revenue increased 5.1% to $9.63 billion, compared with $9.16 billion in 2019. Income declined 1.9% to $506 million ($4.74) compared with $516 million ($4.77) a year ago.
Across the company’s business sectors, the truck division saw Q4 revenue rise by 49.8% to $140.3 million, compared with $93.6 million a year ago. Final-mile revenue surged by 29.7% to $213.1 million from $164.2 million in Q4 2019, and the integrated capacity solutions division notched a 55.9% increase in quarterly revenue to $587.2 million, compared with $376.5 million a year ago.
The company’s dedicated contract services division, which accounts for 21% of all revenue, saw its Q4 revenue grow year-over-year by 2.8% to $568.3 million, compared with $552.7 million a year ago.
“Dedicated had another solid quarter that delivered the highest fourth-quarter revenue and operating income for our segment in our history,” said Nick Hobbs, president of the DCS division, during a conference call with investors. He also noted that the gains in the final-mile division were lifted by new contracted business gained in 2020, along with business that was supplemented by acquisitions.
The only sector to see a decline in revenue was the intermodal division, which saw revenue dip 1.4% to $1.25 billion, compared with nearly $1.27 billion a year ago.
“Our volumes were minus 2% in October, flat in November, and plus 6% in December,” said division president Darren Field. “Rail provider velocity challenges and terminal congestion weighed heavily on our container fleet productivity during the quarter.”
He added, “While we weren’t able to move all the volume available to us, we were able to accomplish one of our top priorities that we have communicated since the start of the pandemic, and that is honoring our capacity commitments to our customers.”
Lower fuel prices and a drop in demand for diesel fuel contributed to the company saving $24.7 million in Q4 fuel outlay, spending $93.5 million on fuel and taxes compared with $118.2 million a year ago. For the year, J.B. Hunt spent $357.5 million on diesel and fuel taxes, compared with $463.2 million in 2019 — a decline of 22%, or $105.7 million, from the prior year.
The company said spending related to the coronavirus pandemic affected 2020, and is expected to continue.
“We continue to offer paid time off to our employees that are quarantined due to COVID concerns, and we incurred approximately $5 million of cost in the [fourth] quarter designated as specific to COVID for a total of approximately $34 million year-to-date,” interim CFO John Kuhlow said. “While I believe our facility work is complete, we expect COVID [paid time off] costs to continue given the current level of case counts and will likely be a headwind for us over the near-term.”
CEO John Roberts said, “2020 taught us many lessons, not the least of which is that we have a community of employees, drivers and providers that are more than capable of dealing with change and crisis. The past year also revealed the essential nature of the services we provide as we experienced challenging and dynamic, but ever-present demand through 2020. We affirmed again that all the businesses we have committed to and invested in complement each other and create a very differentiated model for our customers. We look ahead to 2021 and beyond with confidence.”
J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. It also ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in North America.
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