U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 30 mins

Hunt 1Q profit up despite lower trucking revenue

LOWELL, Ark. (AP) -- Trucking operator J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. said Thursday that its first-quarter profit rose 8 percent as other segments offset shrinkage in the company's trucking fleet.

The earnings, however, fell short of analysts' forecasts, and the company's shares dropped in after-hours trading.

J.B. Hunt, based in Lowell, Ark., said net income was $73.3 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with $67.7 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 10 percent to $1.29 billion from $1.17 billion a year ago.

Analysts expected earnings of 64 cents per share on revenue of $1.29 billion, according to a survey by FactSet.

Hunt said revenue rose 15 percent in intermodal, a big business that involves shipments handled by truck and other forms of transportation such as rail. The company's freight-brokerage unit also brought in more money.

Both of those units helped offset a 21 percent decline in truck segment revenue that was due mostly to a reduction in the fleet from 2,561 trailers a year ago to 2,011. Higher rates were offset by higher driver and independent contractor costs per mile.

Hunt shares fell 65 cents to close at $74.22 before the report. In after-hours trading, they were down another $2.17, or 3 percent, to $72.05.