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How J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (JBHT) Earnings Could Keep Driving Higher

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT) will release its quarterly report next Monday, and the trucking and logistics company has performed impressively in recent months as economic activity within the U.S. has picked up. Even though its competitors tend to draw more attention, JB Hunt’s stock has climbed to all-time record highs as investors see the long-term importance of transport to the health of the overall economy and believe that J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT) earnings will rise in tandem with economic growth.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc.But J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT) faces plenty of challenges in its quest to dominate its industry. Will the company be able to produce the earnings growth necessary to justify its current valuation? Let’s take an early look at what’s been happening with JB Hunt over the past quarter and what we’re likely to see in its quarterly report.

Stats on JB Hunt

Analyst EPS Estimate $0.74
Change From Year-Ago EPS 10.4%
Revenue Estimate $1.4 billion
Change From Year-Ago Revenue 11.8%
Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters 1

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will JB Hunt keep growing its earnings this quarter?

Analysts have actually throttled back on their views of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT)’s earnings in recent months, having cut their June-quarter estimates by a penny per share and slicing twice that from their full-year 2013 consensus. That hasn’t held the stock back, though, which has risen 5% since early April.

JB Hunt’s gains haven’t come without hiccups along the way. When the company reported its first-quarter earnings in April, it recorded about an 8% gain in net income on revenue growth of about 10%, with a better than $100 million increase in sales from its intermodal division. But the stock reacted badly to the fact that investors had expected faster growth.

But one reason why trucking stocks have done so well is that investors are starting to see the potential for consolidation in the industry. Long-beleaguered YRC Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ:YRCW) apparently made an offer to buy out peer Arkansas Best Corporation (NASDAQ:ABFS) in May, and although Arkansas Best Corporation (NASDAQ:ABFS) Best rebuffed the bid, it still points to the efficiency gains that smaller trucking and logistics companies could gain from combining forces.

Moreover, FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)‘s moves to emphasize ground transportation have created a more competitive environment against its rival United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS) , and the changing dynamics in the industry have implications for trucking companies as well. As the biggest shipping companies rely more on ground-based solutions for moving goods, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. (NASDAQ:JBHT)’s freight services have the opportunity to benefit from the higher demand for trucking and intermodal services.

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