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Why Is JB Hunt (JBHT) Down 1.5% Since Last Earnings Report?

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for JB Hunt (JBHT). Shares have lost about 1.5% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is JB Hunt due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Earnings Beat at J.B. Hunt in Q4

J.B. Hunt's earnings of $1.44 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.27. The bottom line also increased 6.7% year over year due to higher revenues across most segments.

Total operating revenues of $2,737.7 million surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,514.3 million and also climbed 11.7% year over year. Total operating revenues, excluding fuel surcharge revenues, grew approximately 18% year over year. The top line was driven by robust performances of the Integrated Capacity Solutions and Truck segments.
 
Quarterly operating income (on a reported basis) inched up 1%. Meanwhile operating expenses rose 12.7%.

Segmental Highlights

The Intermodal division generated quarterly revenues of $1.25 billion, down 1% year over year. Despite inching up 1%, volumes were heavily constrained by rail congestion and service issues. Operating income declined 16% year over year to $110.8 million.

Revenues at the Dedicated Contract Services segment rose 3% year over year to $568 million. Moreover, operating income augmented 4% year over year to $77.6 million owing to increased productivity of assets, reduced driver turnover, and lower travel and entertainment expenses.

ICS revenues surged 56% year over year to $587 million with 39% increase in revenue per load. Revenue per load benefited from favorable freight mix changes and higher spot and contractual rates. The segment’s operating income was $5.6 million, compared with an operating loss of $11.8 million in the year-ago period.

Final Mile Services revenues jumped 30% to $213 million since stop count within the segment ascended 42% during the December quarter. The segment’s operating income climbed 12% year over year, driven primarily by increase in revenues.

JBT revenues were up 50% to $140 million, primarily due to increase in load count and revenue per load, excluding fuel surcharge revenues. At the end of the fourth quarter, total tractors and trailers were 1,769 and 8,567 respectively, compared with the respective year-ago figures of 1,831 and 6,975. Meanwhile, operating income soared 32% to $8.4 million.

Liquidity & Buyback

The company exited the fourth quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $313.3 million compared with $35 million at the end of 2019. Long-term debt was $1.31 billion compared with $1.29 billion at 2019-end. Net capital expenditures in 2020 were $600.77 million compared with $688.2 million in 2019.

During the quarter, J.B. Hunt repurchased approximately 144,000 shares for around $17 million. The company had approximately $503 million remaining under its share repurchase authorization at the end of the fourth quarter.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates review.

VGM Scores

Currently, JB Hunt has a strong Growth Score of A, though it is lagging a bit on the Momentum Score front with a B. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of A on the value side, putting it in the top 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, JB Hunt has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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