J.B. Hunt officials sale of millions in stock not ‘outrageous’

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 3/10/2008

Four top officials at J.B. Hunt Transport Services sold more than $30 million in stock in February, but at least one analyst says it may not mean anything.

According to a Feb. 22 filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Earl Wayne Garrison, board chairman for J.B. Hunt, sold a little more than 1 million shares of the company’s stock for $28 million.

Paul Bergant, the firm’s chief marketing director, reportedly sold more than $2.3 million in stock in three different sales on Feb. 4, Feb. 6 and Feb. 11. Alfred Harper, chief operations officer, sold $1.85 million on Feb. 1, and Jerry Walton, the company’s chief financial officer, sold $772,750 worth of stock on Feb. 4.

According to a news release issued March, 3, the company’s debt increased from $396 million in December 2006 to $913 million at the end of 2007.

Don’t read too much into the transactions, said Donald Broughton, a senior research analyst with Avondale Partners.

Several of J.B. Hunt’s recent stock transactions have come because of executives’ stock options maturing, Broughton said.

“I don’t see a pattern in which anything looks that outrageous, as much as this looks like prudent diversification of portfolios and going ahead and exercising options that were set to expire,” Broughton said.

J.B. Hunt is performing well among trucking firms muddled in the recently weak shipping economy, Broughton told Land Line.

J.B. Hunt and other major carriers have been cutting fleets for some time, Broughton said.

“Hunt has been doing much better than many of its peers because of its intermodal division – it’s their biggest division,” Broughton told Land Line. “Their second biggest is dedicated trucks, and they’re the largest provider of dedicated trucks in the industry. Intermodal is a less cyclical business than regular over-the-road contract work.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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