J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., (NASDAQ:JBHT) announced record first quarter 2012 net earnings of $67.7 million, or diluted earnings per share of 57 cents vs. first quarter 2011 net earnings of $50.0 million, or 40 cents per diluted share.
Total operating revenue for the current quarter was $1.17 billion, compared with $1.0 billion for the first quarter 2011. All four segments contributed to this increase in operating revenue. Load growth of 16% in Intermodal (JBI) and 14% in Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS), helped drive a 20% and 30% increase in segment revenue, respectively. Our Dedicated Contract Services (DCS) and Truck (JBT) segments increased operating revenue by 7% and 8%, respectively. Current quarter total operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 13% vs. the comparable quarter 2011.
Operating income for the current quarter totaled $117 million vs. $90 million for the first quarter 2011. DCS and ICS operating incomes increased by approximately $11 million combined or more than 50% over prior year primarily due to increased revenue, utilizing assets in more profitable accounts, better overall cost controls, and productivity gained from a more experienced workforce. JBI operating income increased by approximately $17 million on higher load volume, customer price increases and fuel surcharge recovery.
Net interest expense for the current quarter decreased by $1.4 million due to lower interest rates on comparable debt levels. The effective income tax rate for the quarter was 38.25% compared to 38.45% last year.
“We are driven to provide relevant transportation services that meet the evolving needs of our customers’ supply chain management challenges. Changes in packaging, fuel costs, inventory levels, replenishment and end consumer point of purchase behaviors, among others, have had an effect on how our customers manage logistics. We continue to operate under our long stated strategy of directing investments towards solutions that customers need and are willing to pay for with reasonable rates and structured contract terms. The results of the first quarter provide ongoing confirmation for this disciplined and balanced strategy,” said John N. Roberts, JBHT President and CEO.