Market Volatility Shows on Annual Stockholders List

by Gwen Moritz and Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Sep. 5, 2011 12:00 am  

P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. of Tontitown - which has not a single Arkansas stockholder on the largest stockholders list - saw its stocks tread water, down 10 percent from $11.56 at the start of the year to $10.40 on Aug. 23.

USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren has experienced the biggest percentage stock price declines among trucking companies this year, its shares dropping 42 percent from $13.34 to $7.70.

The transportation sector, a leading indicator of economic health or weakness, has reflected the still-shaky economy. However, some trucking concerns, such as J.B. Hunt, have made the best of a difficult market, whatever their share price.

In July, J.B. Hunt reported that second-quarter profit rose 26 percent to $65.7 million, or 53 cents per share, a noticeable improvement from second-quarter 2010 net earnings of $52.1 million, or 40 cents per share.

J.B. Hunt's second-quarter operating revenue rose 22 percent to $1.15 billion. The company said each of its four segments saw revenue growth: Intermodal by 29 percent, Integrated Capacity Solutions by 27 percent, Dedicated Contract Services by 16 percent and Truck by 4 percent.

John N. Roberts, the company's president and CEO, said that second-quarter 2011 "yielded record revenues and record earnings."

In a mid-July report, Wolfe Trahan of New York, research analysts that focus on the transportation sector, noted that J.B. Hunt had posted its second strongest revenue growth in 15 years and said the company "remains our top transport stock pick ... ."

Wolfe Trahan also follows Arkansas Best, which in August announced second-quarter 2011 net income of $5.3 million, or 20 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $7.4 million, or 30 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2010. The company credited its return to profitability to healthy tonnage levels and improved pricing.

An Aug. 3 Wolfe Trahan report, while noting these improvements, said that "we expect it will continue to struggle with the right mix of pricing versus volumes going forward."

Other Companies
Shares of Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, which trades on the NYSE, were just pennies higher Aug. 23 ($16.87) compared with Jan. 3, the first trading day of 2011 ($16.42). Tyson, one of the world's largest processors and sellers of chicken, beef and pork, is particularly sensitive to commodity prices because of its huge demand for corn and soybeans.

It saw its share prices pushing $20 in early May only to bounce up and down since. In late June and early July, it had regained momentum, again trading over $19, only to fall prey to the market malaise of late summer.

Tyson last month reported that its third-quarter profit fell 21 percent because of higher grain costs and declining demand for chicken.



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