J.B. Hunt shareholders approve reporting requirements for political contributions, climate change initiatives

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 809 views 

Shareholders of Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. approved two proposals that will require the company to report its political contributions and climate change initiatives.

J.B. Hunt hosted Thursday (April 23) a 20-minute shareholders meeting at the company’s headquarters but had encouraged shareholders to listen to the meeting on the phone.

Jennifer Boattini, corporate secretary for J.B. Hunt, led the meeting and presented the supporting and opposing statements for the two stockholder proposals that were approved.

The shareholder proposal on political contributions reporting was supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Fund of Washington, D.C., and was approved with 53.2% of the vote. J.B. Hunt’s board of directors had recommended voting against the proposal and said political contributions comprised less than 0.001% of its total annual expenses in 2019.

The proposal asks J.B. Hunt to disclose all electoral spending, including payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations that might be used for electoral purposes, according to the company’s proxy statement. The company is to complete a semiannual report showing the company’s political contributions with the name of the recipient and the amount given to each. The report will be presented to the board of directors and posted on the company’s website within 12 months of the annual meeting. Similar proposals over the past two years had failed.

The shareholder proposal on climate change regarded issuing a report on how it plans to reduce its total contribution to climate change and aligning itself with the Paris Agreement’s goal of maintaining global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. The proposal was approved with 54.5% of the vote and supported by Trillium Asset Management LLC of Portland, Ore.

“Given the impact of climate change on the economy, the environment and human systems, and the short amount of time in which to address it, proponents believe J.B. Hunt has a clear responsibility to its investors and other stakeholders to account for whether, and how, it plans to reduce its ongoing climate contributions,” according to the proposal.

J.B. Hunt’s board of directors also recommended voting against the proposal and said it could “undermine the company’s ability to compete in the transportation marketplace, reducing our profitability and harming the financial interests of our stockholders.” It would require the company to publicly disclose how it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give its competitors “insight into management’s strategic business plans and operational goals and ultimately could impair the company’s ability to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions,” according to the board’s opposition statement filed in the proxy.

Shareholders also elected to one-year terms the following 10 directors: Doug Duncan, Fran Edwardson, Wayne Garrison, Sharilyn Gasaway, Gary George, Bryan Hunt, Gale King, J.B. Hunt CEO John Roberts, James Robo and chairman Kirk Thompson. Coleman Peterson retired from the board at the end of the shareholders meeting, and King was nominated to fill the vacancy. King, 63, is executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Roberts briefly spoke about his time working with Peterson and highlighted when Peterson told him several years ago the idea for the company’s technology platform J.B. Hunt 360 “was genius, just genius.”

J.B. Hunt reported April 14 net income declined 12.3% to $104.83 million in the first quarter, from the same period in 2019. Revenue rose 9.1% to $2.28 billion.

Total freight transactions in the Marketplace for J.B. Hunt 360 rose 47.7% to $294 million in the first quarter of 2020, from the same period in 2019.

Shares of J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT) were trading Thursday at $101.14, up 89 cents or 0.88%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged between $122.29 and $75.29.

Also Thursday, J.B. Hunt announced it will pay a 27-cents per share cash dividend May 22 to shareholders of record as of May 8.

In the previous quarter, J.B. Hunt also paid a 27-cents per share cash dividend.

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