J.B. Hunt execs garner pay raises amid rising profits in 2013

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 122 views 

Top executives at Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services enjoyed big compensation boosts in 2013, with CEO John Roberts III posting an almost 20% gain in base pay, stock awards and other benefits.

The company will hold it’s annual shareholder meeting on April 24 at its corporate offices, according to the company’s annual proxy filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In accordance with the Dodd-Frank rule “Say on Exec Pay” there is a proposal asking for shareholder approval of Hunt’s compensation packages for its named employee officers.

Roberts earned total compensation of $4.058 million in 2013, an increase of 19.7% from the prior year. His base salary totaled $642,592, with added  bonus pay of $146,050.

The bulk of Roberts’ salary package is deferred compensation and paid in company stock and options which totaled $3.244 million in 2013. The bonus and deferred stock awards are performance based relative to corporate profitability. Roberts also received about $25,000 in other payment such as paid personal benefits, country club dues, financial and tax planning allowances and 401(k) contributions. 

David Mee, chief financial officer, earned total compensation of $2.662 million, compared to $1.242 million in the prior year. Mee’s base salary rose to $401,077 in 2013, an increase of 8.5%. His bonus pay of $90,850 was lower in 2013, but deferred compensation rose to $2.152 million, more than triple the $691,575 reported in 2012. He also received other compensation totaling about $18,000.

Kirk Thompson, chairman of the board, earned $2.160 million in 2013. His pay includes a base salary of $492,308, deferred share compensation of $1.658 million and other benefits worth about $9,400. 

Terrence Matthews, president of the intermodal segment, earned $3.553 million in 2013. Base salary totaled $408,436, with bonuses of $92,000. Deferred compensation stock awards totaled $3.229 million. Other compensation totaled about $26,000. Matthews’ total compensation package increased 195% from the prior year.

Craig Harper, executive vice president, earned $1.726 million in 2013, up 39% from his 2012 salary package. Base salary totaled $375,000, with added bonuses of $86,250. Deferred stock awards totaled $1.255 million and other benefits valued at $9,773.

Hunt notes in its proxy filing that its executive compensation program is incentivized for positive achievement. In the highly competitive logistics industry, Hunt notes that it seeks to recruit and retain top talent and believes its compensation program does that.

In 2013, executives with Hunt helped the logistics giant reach record earnings of $342.3 million on revenue of $5.584 billion. Hunt’s top and bottom lines rose more than 10% from the prior year. 

The company recommends to shareholders to approve its compensation structure, noting that the vote is not binding. The company said its board compensation committee will consider stockholders’ concerns and take them into account when designing future executive compensation programs.

Shareholders will also elect a slate of 11 directors to a one-year term. Each of the following director candidates has previously served on the board for a minimum of four years, according to the proxy filing:
• Douglas G. Duncan
• Francesca M. Edwardson, 
• Wayne Garrison, 
• Sharilyn S. Gasaway, 
• Gary C. George, 
• Bryan Hunt, 
• Coleman H. Peterson, 
• John N. Roberts III, 
• James L. Robo, 
• Kirk Thompson, and 
• John A. White 

Each board member not employed by the company received $140,000 in base compensation in 2013, payable in cash or stock. Additional pay was provided to the directors for their committee service, overseeing audits, compensation and corporate governance. Director compensation totaled $1.603 million in 2013, according to the proxy filing.

The company’s largest shareholder is co-founder Johnelle Hunt. She holds 19.354 million shares with an approximate street value of $1.383 billion. Hunt’s shares comprise 16.5% of the company’s outstanding common stock.

Shares of J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) opened Monday (March 17) at $71.96. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from a $79.89 high to a $67.97 low.

Following are the three largest institutional investors holding shares of J.B. Hunt.
• FMR, 10.339 million shares, 8.8%
• BlackRock, 7.893 millions shares, 6.7%
• T.Rowe Price, 6.310 million shares, 5.3%