- Despite reporting revenue for Q2 2020 down 5% from the same quarter a year earlier, J.B. Hunt officials said they felt both positive and measured about the rest of the year and beyond. Executives talked up last-mile services and its efforts to seek dedicated contracts with private fleets, during its Q2 2020 earnings call Thursday.
- J.B. Hunt CEO John Roberts said demand for services was steady during the COVID-19 pandemic. He told investors the last four months produced the lowest driver turnover in the company's history — a sign of a bottom in the recessionary cycle.
- Roberts said a recent spike in coronavirus cases has made caution necessary and has prevented the company from making major directional changes in strategy. But the company is expecting a "return to normalcy," and it is discussing early-stage preparation for the expansion of fleet sizes and more need for technology-related equipment.
J.B. Hunt officials said the global pandemic appears to be waning in its negative business effect. Business for intermodal has gradually increased, with the second half of June seeing more business than April or May, according to the company.
Shelly Simpson, J.B. Hunt chief commercial officer, told investors said she is "somewhat cautious" about performance in the second half of 2020. "But ... we really don't have great forecasts from our customers as to what revenues are going to do or shipments are going to do," said Simpson.
The company said Q2 was a "wild roller coaster" ride, so it exercised a conservative approach. But now the green shoots in the economy are showing, according to Nick Hobbs, president of dedicated contract services and final mile services.
Hobbs said demand is very high now for certain niche consumer items, such as exercise equipment, and furniture demand is also returning.
He also disclosed the company is pushing its contract services to companies with private fleets. The sale is not usually an easy one, and online meetings have made it tougher. But Hobbs said he is not deterred.
"It is a big decision to replace a private fleet," said Hobbs. "It takes a while to sell it. I have always said 18 to 22 months."
So far in 2020, J.B Hunt sold 430 dedicated trucks, Hobbs said.