LOWELL -- Despite current industry headwinds, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. has weathered recent challenges well, including the covid-19 pandemic, on the strength of its dedicated employees and experienced executive team, Chief Executive Officer John Roberts said Thursday.
"This company is resilient because of its people," Roberts said as J.B. Hunt shareholders gathered on a rainy morning at the company's headquarters to look back on the year, celebrate 50 years of service from the company's chairman, and approve directors.
Roberts said the company is well positioned for strategic growth and expansion.
Company President Shelley Simpson said in today's business environment customers are seeking value, something J.B. Hunt is able to provide through efficiency and scale.
The company also took time to acknowledge the service of board Chairman Kirk Thompson, who had been a part of J.B. Hunt for 50 years, including a 23-year stint as CEO. Roberts said Thompson's leadership and industry savvy had set the company up for success and revolutionized the industry.
Thompson quipped and joked as he accepted the praise and a standing ovation from those in attendance.
"It's not always been easy, but it has always been really fun," Thompson said.
During the meeting executives touted the company's results for 2022, including revenue just shy of $15 billion, a 22% gain over the year prior and operating income of $1.3 billion, up 27% when compared to 2021.
The company saw its first quarter profits for 2023 slump as freight demand declined. During a conference call with analysts last month to discuss the company's results, Simpson said inflation and slowing imports were dragging on the company's bottom line and said the industry was in a freight recession.
Company shares closed at $170.07, up $4.45 or nearly 3% in trading Thursday on the Nasdaq. J.B. Hunt shares have traded as low as $153.92 and as high as $200.64 over the past year.
As part of normal business, shareholders approved the company's slate of nine directors up for one year terms, including Fran Edwardson, Wayne Garrison, Sharilyn Gasaway, Thad Hill, Bryan Hunt, Persio Lisboa, John Roberts, James Robo and Kirk Thompson. Edwardson, Gasaway, Hill, Lisboa and Robo are independent directors.
Shareholders also approved the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP as Hunt's independent public accountants for 2023. The company has been J.B. Hunt's independent auditor since 2021.
CORRECTION: J.B. Hunt Chairman Kirk Thompson served the company as chief executive officer for 23 years. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the number of years Thompson held the CEO position.