By Jack Pitcher
(Bloomberg) — J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. surged the most in six months as a company forecast eased investor concerns about a prolonged recession in the trucking industry.
Intermodal cargo volume will improve in the second half of 2019, reversing a slide in truckloads during the first six months of the year, J.B. Hunt told analysts on a conference call late Monday. That soothed concerns that the trucking industry’s slump would get worse.
“No doom, no gloom and a glimmer of hope,” Cowen & Co. analyst Jason Seidl said Tuesday in a note to clients about J.B. Hunt’s second-quarter earnings.
The results also buoyed J.B. Hunt’s rivals after months of rising worry over truckers. Freight haulers have struggled this year from sluggish demand after U.S.-China trade tensions last year prompted shippers to build up inventories of Chinese products ahead of potential tariffs. Truckers have also suffered from weakness in factory output, despite a better performance in that gauge last month.
J.B. Hunt jumped 8.4% to $100.39 at 10:44 a.m. in New York, the biggest gain on the S&P 500 Index, after surging as much as 9.3% for the most intraday since Jan. 18. Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc., Ryder Systems Inc. and XPO Logistics Inc. also advanced, as a Standard & Poor’s trucking index posted the biggest intraday gain in three years.
Truckers still face plenty of uncertainty. Truckload rates from a year earlier have declined every month since January. Truck tonnage fell 6.1% in May, cooling off after a large gain in April, according to the American Trucking Associations.
The earnings of Lowell, Arkansas-based J.B. Hunt results were “not bad, but not all that good either,” Allison Landry, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, said in a report. She said she wasn’t convinced that trucking rates have bottomed.