Trucking profits moving up...

JB Hunt Q4 operating revenue, excluding fuel surcharges, increased 15% vs. the comparable quarter 2017.  JB Hunt has multiple segments.  Here is how each did:
  • Intermodal had more revenue, 1% less volume, and a big hit to profit as it faces costs from an arbitration with BNSF
  • Brokerage had 14% more volume but a change in the mix – away from the spot market – means that revenue was only up 7%.  This is an asset-light business that makes 4.6% profit
  • Dedicated continues to grow and has a better than 10% profit on its half a billion in sales for the quarter
  • Truckload added modestly to its fleet and is now returning a 12% profit. Favorable changes from higher rates per loaded mile and lower equipment ownership costs were partially offset by higher driver wages and independent contractor costs per mile and higher driver and independent contractor recruiting costs compared to fourth quarter 2017
Summary:  it is a good time to be a trucker….but 2018 sees trucking company confidence, as defined by new truck order, plummeting!
An 8-0 U.S. Supreme Court ruling makes it clear that employers cannot force transportation workers into binding arbitration.  Watch and see this ripple through the country – but expect the first battle to be in the LA ports as Teamsters try to pressure drayage companies to hire union drivers rather than use contractors.