Thanks largely to the antics of former CEO Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) has been one of the most maligned names in the energy sector. McClendon leveraged the company's future with debt, intertwined his personal finances with the company's, and engineered a land-buying program that received significant amounts of bad press topped off with negative portrayal of the industry in Matt Damon's movie, "Promised Land." The result has been a nearly 40% slide in Chesapeake Energy stock over the past two years.
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Natural gas on the rise
Despite the bad press, the overall position of the natural gas industry has never looked more promising. Companies ranging from Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE ) to Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A ) are beginning to initiate programs that rely heavily on natural gas. In the case of Clean Energy, the company is undertaking a major push to create a corridor of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, filling stations across the country to allow trucks to carry freight on LNG power rather than diesel. This type of transition is likely to eventually trickle down to passenger vehicles, which currently are not fully viable as an LNG alternative. While Chesapeake Energy stock once benefited from the company's partial ownership of Clean Energy, that stake is likely to be sold to help meet debt obligations.
Top 10 Rising Stocks To Watch For 2015: Forward Air Corp (FWRD)
Forward Air Corporation operates in two segments: Forward Air, Inc. (Forward Air) and Forward Air Solutions, Inc. (FASI). Through the Company's Forward Air segment, it is a provider of time-definite surface transportation and related logistics services to the North American deferred air freight market. It offers its customers local pick-up and delivery (Forward Air Complete) and scheduled surface transportation of cargo. It transports cargo that must be delivered at a specific time but is less time-sensitive than traditional air freight. As of December 31, 2011, it operated its Forward Air segment through a network of terminals located on or near airports in 85 cities in the United States and Canada, including a central sorting facility in Columbus, Ohio and 12 regional hubs serving key markets. It also offers its customers an array of logistics and other services including expedited full truckload (TLX); dedicated fleets; warehousing; customs brokerage; and shipment consolidation, deconsolidation and handling. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 23.9% of the freight it handled was for overnight delivery, approximately 61.3% was for delivery within two to three days and the balance was for delivery in four or more days. Through its FASI segment, it provides pool distribution services throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest and Southwest continental United States. Pool distribution involves managing high-frequency, last mile handling and distribution of time-sensitive product to destinations in geographic regions. In March 2013, it acquired Total Quality, Inc. In February 2014, Forward Air Corporation acquired Central States Trucking Co. and Central States Logistics, Inc. from Central States Inc.
The Company receives freight from air freight forwarders, integrated air cargo carriers and passenger and cargo airlines at its terminals, which are located on or near airports in the United States and Canada. It also picks up freight from custo! mers at designated locations via our Forward Air Complete service. It transports these shipments by truck through its network to its terminals nearest the destinations of the shipments. It operates scheduled service to and from each of its terminals through its Columbus, Ohio central sorting facility or through one of its 12 regional hubs. It also operates scheduled shuttle service directly between terminals where the volume of freight warrants bypassing the Columbus, Ohio central sorting facility or a regional hub. When a shipment arrives at its terminal nearest its destination, the customer arranges for the shipment to be picked up and delivered to its final destination, or it, in the alternative, through its Forward Air Complete service, deliver the freight for the customer to its final destination. Its airport-to-airport network consists of terminals located in the 85 cities. As of December 31, 2011, independent agents and FASI operate 18 and two of its Forward Air locations.
The Company operates direct terminal-to-terminal services and regional overnight service between terminals where justified by freight volumes. It provides regional overnight service to the markets within its network. Direct shipments also reduce the likelihood of damage because of reduced handling and sorting of the freight. It operates regional hubs in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Newark, Newburgh, Orlando, and Sacramento. During 2011, the average weekly volume of freight moving through its network was approximately 34.0 million pounds per week. During 2011, its average shipment weighed approximately 717 pounds and shipment sizes ranged from small boxes weighing only a few pounds to large shipments of several thousand pounds.
The Company�� logistics and other services allow customers to access services from a single source: expedited full truckload (TLX); dedicated fleets; customs brokerage, such as assistance with the United States C! ustoms an! d Border Protection (U.S. Customs) procedures for both import and export shipments; warehousing, dock and office space; drayage and intermodal; hotshot or ad-hoc ultra expedited services, and shipment consolidation and handling, such as shipment build-up and break-down and reconsolidation of air or ocean pallets or containers.
Forward Air Solutions
Through the Company�� FASI segment, it provides pool distribution services through a network of terminals and service locations in 19 cities throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest and Southwest continental United States. Pool distribution involves managing high-frequency handling and distribution of time-sensitive product to destinations in specific geographic regions. Its customers for this product are regional and nationwide distributors and retailers, such as mall, strip mall and outlet-based retail chains. Its pool distribution network consists of terminals and service locations in the 19 cities. Its Forward Air wholesale customer base is comprised of freight forwarders, integrated air cargo carriers and passenger and cargo airlines. Its air freight forwarder customers vary in size from independent, single facility companies to international logistics companies, such as SEKO Worldwide, AIT Worldwide Logistics, Expeditors International of Washington, Associated Global, UPS Supply Chain Solutions and Pilot Air Freight. Its FASI pool distribution customers are consisted of national and regional retailers and distributors, such as The Limited, The Marmaxx Group, The GAP, and Aeropostale. The Company also participates in air cargo and retail trade shows and advertise its services through direct mail programs and through the Internet via www.forwardair.com and www.forwardairsolutions.com.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Seth Jayson]
Calling all cash flows
When you are trying to buy the market's best stocks, it's worth checking up on your companies' free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That's what we do with this series. Today, we're checking in on Forward Air (Nasdaq: FWRD ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Heartland Express Inc (HTLD)
Heartland Express, Inc. (Heartland), incorporated on August 8, 1986, is a short-to-medium haul truckload carrier. The Company provides regional dry van truckload services through its regional terminals plus its corporate headquarters. The Company transports freight for shippers and generally earns revenue based on the number of miles per load delivered. The Company�� primary traffic lanes are between customer locations east of the Rocky Mountains. The Company is a holding company of Heartland Express Inc. of Iowa, Heartland Express Services, Inc., Heartland Express Maintenance Services, Inc. and A & M Express, Inc. Heartland operates nine specialized regional distribution operations in Atlanta, Georgia; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Chester, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; Kingsport, Tennessee; Olive Branch, Mississippi; Phoenix, Arizona, and Seagoville, Texas. The Company operates maintenance facilities at all regional distribution operating centers along with shop only locations in Fort Smith, Arkansas and O��allon, Missouri. In November 2013, Heartland Express Inc acquired 100% of the stock of Gordon Trucking, Inc.
The Company�� operations department is responsible for maintaining the continuity between the customer�� needs and Heartland�� ability to meet those needs by communicating customer�� expectations to the fleet management group. They are charged with development of customer relationships, ensuring service standards, coordinating proper freight-to-capacity balancing, trailer asset management, and daily tactical decisions pertaining to matching the customer demand with the appropriate capacity within geographical service areas. They assign orders to drivers based on well-defined criteria, such as driver safety and United States Department of Transportation (the DOT) compliance, customer needs and service requirements, on-time service, equipment utilization, driver time at home, operational efficiency, and equipment maintenance needs. Fleet management is r! esponsible for driver management and development. Their responsibilities include meeting the needs of the drivers within the standards that have been set by the organization and communicating the requirements of the customers to the drivers on each order to ensure successful execution. Serving the short-to-medium haul market (500 miles average length of haul in 2012) permits the Company to use primarily single, rather than team drivers and dispatch loads directly from origin to destination without an intermediate equipment change other than for driver scheduling purposes.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Heartland Express (HTLD) has dropped 2.2% to $19.12 after it was cut to Hold from Buy at Stifel Nicolaus.
Allergan (AGN) was upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells Fargo.
- [By Sean Williams]
For this week's round of "Better Know a Stock," I'm going to take a closer look at Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD ) .
What Heartland Express does
Heartland Express is a short-to-medium-haul truckload carrier of general commodities within the United States. It primarily is responsible for shipping automotive parts, retail goods, paper products, and packaged food.
- [By Jake L'Ecuyer]
Equities Trading UP
Heartland Express (NASDAQ: HTLD) shot up 19.72 percent to $17.14 after the company reported that it has acquired Gordon Trucking for $300 million.
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Chalmers Ltd (CHR)Chalmers Limited is an Australia-based company engaged in transport, logistic services, warehousing and container storage, repairs and sales. The Company operated in three segments: Transport, Containers and Property. Transport consists of road transport, predominantly import/export FCL containers and the interface with logistics/ warehousing/hubbing services. Containers represent the empty container park operations concerned with handling, storage, repairs, upgrades, pretrips and so on of empty containers on behalf of shipping and leasing company customers. Property represents the capital investment Chalmers has in freeholds located in Melbourne. The Company�� subsidiaries include Chalmers Industries Pty Ltd, Chalmers (Australia) Pty Ltd and Chalmers Industries (Brisbane) Pty Ltd. Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Corinne Gretler]
Chr. Hansen A/S (CHR) slid 1.7 percent to 186 kroner after Credit Suisse Group AG cut the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from outperform. The brokerage said that profit from its natural-color business remains under pressure. The world�� biggest maker of dairy enzymes cut its full-year sales forecast on July 3 because of lower prices for the red pigment carmine.
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Hub Group Inc (HUBG)
Hub Group, Inc., incorporated on March 8, 1995, is an asset-light freight transportation management companies. The Company offers intermodal, truck brokerage and logistics services. The Company operates distinct business segments: Mode, which includes the acquired Mode business acquired by the Company on April 1, 2011, and Hub, which is all business other than Mode. Both segments offer intermodal, truck brokerage and logistics services. Hub operates through a network of operating centers throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Hub services a diversified customer base in a broad range of industries, including consumer products, retail and durable goods. Mode markets and operates its freight transportation services primarily through its network of independent business owners (IBOs) who enter into contracts with Mode. Mode's company managed operation includes a business arranging for the transportation of raw materials and finished products for a food producer and, to a lesser extent, other highway brokerage, intermodal and logistics operations.
As an intermodal marketing company (IMC), the Company arranges for the movement of its customers freight in containers and trailers, typically over long distances of 750 miles or more. The Company contracts with railroads to provide transportation for the long-haul portions of the shipment and with local trucking companies, known as drayage companies, for pickup and delivery. As part of the Company's intermodal services, the Company negotiates rail and drayage rates, electronically tracks shipments in transit, consolidate billing and handle claims for freight loss or damage on behalf of its customers.
The Company uses its network to access containers and trailers owned by leasing companies, railroads and steamship lines. The Company is able to track trailers and containers entering a service area and reuses that equipment to fulfill the customers' outbound shipping requirements. As of December 31, 2012, ! Hub had access to approximately 9,111 rail-owned containers for the Company's dedicated use on the Union Pacific (UP) and the Norfolk Southern (NS) rails. In addition to these rail-owned containers, as of December 31, 2012, the Company had a total of 14,756 53-inch private containers for use on the UP and NS. The Company financed 6,167 of these containers with operating leases and the Company owns 8,589 containers.
As of December 31, 2012, approximately 66% of the Company's drayage needs were met by its subsidiary, Comtrak Logistics, Inc. (Comtrak), which assists its customers. Comtrak has terminals in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charleston, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas, Harrisburg, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Memphis, Nashville, Newark, Los Angeles, Perry (FL), Philadelphia, Savannah, Seattle, St. Louis, Stockton, and Titusville (FL). As of December 31, 2012, Comtrak owned 260 tractors, leased or owned 448 trailers, employed 296 drivers and contracted with 2,178 owner-operators.
Truck Brokerage (Highway Services)
The Company is a truck broker in the United States. As part of the truck brokerage services, the Company negotiates rates , track shipments in transit and handle claims for freights loss and damage on behalf of its customers.
Logistics and Other Services
Hub's logistics business operates under the name of Unyson Logistics. Unyson Logistics consists of a network of logistics professionals dedicated to developing, implementing and operating customized logistics solutions. Unyson offers a range of transportation management services and technology solutions, including shipment optimization, load consolidation, mode selection, carrier management, load planning and execution and Web-based shipment visibility. Unyson Logistics operates throughout North America, providing operations through its main operating location in St. Louis with additional support locations in Bosto! n, Chicag! o, Cleveland and Minneapolis. Certain Mode agents provide logistics services. The Company's multi-modal transportation capabilities through both the Hub and Mode segments include small parcel, heavyweight, expedited, less-than-truckload, truckload, intermodal and railcar.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By cody56]
During the third quarters these holdering were the worse performers for Diamond Hill Small Cap Fund. Rosseta Resources Inc. (ROSE) , TriMas Corp. (TRS) , Tenneco Inc. (TEN) , Popular Inc. (BPOP) and Hub Group (HUBG).
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Marten Transport Ltd (MRTN)
Marten Transport, Ltd. is a temperature-sensitive truckload carrier. The Company specializes in transporting and distributing food and other consumer packaged goods that require a temperature-controlled or insulated environment. It operates throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. The Company operates in two segments: Truckload and Logistics. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 81% of its truckload revenue resulted from hauling temperature-sensitive products and 19% from hauling dry freight. Its long-haul traffic lanes are between the Midwest and the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, and the East Coast, as well as from California to the Pacific Northwest. It provides regional truckload carrier services in the Southeast, West Coast, Midwest, South Central and Northeast regions.
The Company derives truckload revenue from fuel surcharges, loading and unloading activities, equipment detention and other ancillary services. Its operating revenue also includes revenue reported within its Logistics segment, which consists of revenue from its internal brokerage and intermodal operations, and through its 45% interest in MW Logistics, LLC (MWL), a third-party provider of logistics services to the transportation industry. Brokerage services involve arranging for another company to transport freight for the Company�� customers, while it retains the billing, collection and customer management responsibilities. Intermodal services involve the transport of its trailers on railroad flatcars for a portion of a trip, with the balance of the trip using its tractors or, to a lesser extent, contracted carriers. It focuses on large food and consumer-packaged goods companies whose products require temperature-sensitive services and who ship multiple truckloads per week. As of December 31, 2011, its customers were General Mills and Kraft.
As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated a fleet of 2,281 tractors, including 2,233 company owned tractors and 48 t! ractors supplied by independent contractors. The average age of its company owned tractor fleet at December 31, 2011 was approximately 2.6 years. As of December 31, 2011, it operated a fleet of 4,124 trailers. Most of its trailers are equipped with Thermo-King refrigeration units, air ride suspensions and anti-lock brakes. The average age of its trailer fleet as of December 31, 2011 was approximately 2.4 years.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Monica Gerson]
Marten Transport (NASDAQ: MRTN) is estimated to post its Q3 earnings at $0.23 per share on revenue of $168.28 million.
CSX (NYSE: CSX) is expected to post its Q3 earnings at $0.43 per share on revenue of $2.95 billion.
- [By Seth Jayson]
Marten Transport (Nasdaq: MRTN ) reported earnings on July 16. Here are the numbers you need to know.
The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended June 30 (Q2), Marten Transport missed estimates on revenues and missed estimates on earnings per share.
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Con-way Inc (CNW)
Con-way Inc. (Con-way), incorporated in 1958, provides transportation, logistics and supply-chain management services for a wide range of manufacturing, industrial and retail customers. Con-way�� business units operate in regional and transcontinental less-than-truckload and full-truckload freight transportation, contract logistics and supply-chain management, multimodal freight brokerage, and trailer manufacturing. Con-way is divided into four segments: Freight, Logistics, Truckload, and Other. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Freight operated 286 freight service centers, of which 144 were owned and 142 were leased. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Freight owned and operated approximately 9,200 tractors and 26,400 trailers, including tractors held under capital lease agreements.
The Freight segment consists of the operating results of the Con-way Freight business unit. Con-way Freight is a less-than-truckload (LTL) motor carrier that utilizes a network of freight service centers to provide day-definite regional, inter-regional and transcontinental less-than-truckload freight services throughout North America. LTL carriers transport shipments from multiple shippers utilizing a network of freight service centers combined with a fleet of line-haul and pickup-and-delivery tractors and trailers. Freight is picked up from customers and consolidated for shipment at the originating service center. Freight is consolidated for transportation to the destination service centers or freight assembly centers. At Freight assembly centers, freight from various service centers can be reconsolidated for transportation to other freight assembly centers or destination service centers. From the destination service center, the freight is delivered to the customer. Typically, LTL shipments weigh between 100 and 15,000 pounds. In 2011, Con-way Freight�� average weight per shipment was 1,305 pounds.
The Logistics segment consists of the operating results o! f the Menlo Worldwide Logistics business unit. Menlo Worldwide Logistics develops contract-logistics solutions, which can include managing complex distribution networks, and providing supply-chain engineering and consulting, and multimodal freight brokerage services. Menlo Worldwide Logistics��supply-chain management offerings are primarily related to transportation-management and contract-warehousing services. Transportation management refers to the management of asset-based carriers and third-party transportation providers for customers��inbound and outbound supply-chain needs through the use of logistics management systems to consolidate, book and track shipments. Contract warehousing refers to the optimization and operation of warehouses for customers using technology and warehouse-management systems to reduce inventory carrying costs and supply-chain cycle times. For several customers, contract-warehousing operations include light assembly or kitting operations.
Menlo Worldwide Logistics provides its services using a customer- or project-based approach when the supply-chain solution requires customer-specific transportation management, single-client warehouses, and/or single-customer technological solutions. However, Menlo Worldwide Logistics also utilizes a shared-resource, process-based approach that leverages a centralized transportation-management group, multi-client warehouses and technology to provide scalable solutions to multiple customers. Additionally, Menlo Worldwide Logistics segments its business based on customer type. At December 31, 2011, Menlo Worldwide Logistics operated 76 warehouses in North America, of which 55 were leased by Menlo Worldwide Logistics and 21 were leased or owned by clients of Menlo Worldwide Logistics. Outside of North America, Menlo Worldwide Logistics operated an additional 63 warehouses, of which 48 were leased by Menlo Worldwide Logistics and 15 were leased or owned by clients. Menlo Worldwide Logistics owns and operates a small fleet of tr! actors an! d trailers to support its operations, but primarily utilizes third-party transportation providers for the movement of customer shipments.
The Truckload segment consists of the operating results of the Con-way Truckload business unit. Con-way Truckload is a full-truckload motor carrier that utilizes a fleet of tractors and trailers to provide short- and long-haul, asset-based transportation services throughout North America. Con-way Truckload provides dry-van transportation services to manufacturing, industrial and retail customers while using single drivers as well as two-person driver teams over long-haul routes, with each trailer containing only one customer�� goods. This origin-to-destination freight movement limits intermediate handling and is not dependent on the same network of locations utilized by LTL carriers. On average, Con-way Truckload transports shipments more than 800 miles from origin to destination. Under its regional service offering, Con-way Truckload transports truckload shipments of less than 600 miles, including local-area service for truckload shipments of less than 100 miles.
Con-way Truckload offers through-trailer service into and out of Mexico through all major gateways in Texas, Arizona and California. For a shipment with an origin or destination in Mexico, Con-way Truckload provides transportation for the domestic portion of the freight move, and a Mexican carrier provides the pick-up, linehaul and delivery services within Mexico. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Truckload operated five owned terminals with bulk fuel, tractor and trailer parking, and in some cases, equipment maintenance and washing facilities. In addition, Con-way Truckload also utilizes various drop yards for temporary trailer storage throughout the United States. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Truckload owned and operated approximately 2,700 tractors and 8,000 trailers, including tractors held under capital lease agreements.
! The Other! reporting segment consists of the operating results of Road Systems, a trailer manufacturer, and certain corporate activities for which the related income or expense has not been allocated to other reporting segments, including results related to corporate re-insurance activities and corporate properties. Road Systems primarily manufactures and refurbishes trailers for Con-way Freight and Con-way Truckload.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Rich Smith]
Consider: According to YRC, the $150.9 million it currently pays in annual interest exceeds the $92.6 million in interest obligations paid by "all [of its] competitors combined." Con-Way (NYSE: CNW ) , for example, sports a debt load about half of YRC's, yet pays only about one-third �as much in interest on that debt. Old Dominion Freight (NASDAQ: ODFL ) has 12% the debt �of YRC, but only 7% of the interest expense.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Wunderlich’s Nicholas Bender thinks FedEx’s results bode well for Old Dominion (ODFL), Con-way (CNW) and Saia (SAIA):
We expect all less-than-truckload carriers to benefit in 2Q14 from the same trends that carried FedEx Freight to a banner 4Q14. This includes Hold-rated Old Dominion, which will continue to grow at well above market rates, and Buy-rated Con-way, which we believe can leverage a strong 2Q14 to prime the pump on margin enhancement efforts. Our favorite name in the space remains Saia (SAIA-$42.92, Buy), which will once again see accelerating tonnage growth in 2Q14. Though tonnage growth will moderate in� 2H14 due to steeper comps, there remains considerable potential for the company to boost yield and continue winning incremental business with new accounts.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Shares of Atlas Air have plunged 15% to $37.13 today at 1:48 p.m., on what has been a lousy day for shippers and those involved with shipping. Trucking company Con-Way (CNW) has fallen 2.5% to $40.38 after it said earnings would be unchanged from a year ago, well short of analyst forecasts. FedEx (FDX) has dropped 0.7% following UPS’s miss.
10 Best Freight Stocks To Watch For 2014: Aurizon Holdings Ltd (QRNNF)Aurizon Holdings Limited, formerly QR National Limited, is a rail freight operator. It owns and operates a coal network made up of 2,670 kilometers of heavy haul rail infrastructure. It provides specialist services in rail design, engineering, construction, management and maintenance, and offers supply chain solutions to a range of customers in Australia. Its business comprises three product lines. Coal business includes transport of coal from mines in Queensland and New South Wales to end customers and ports. Freight business includes transport of bulk mineral commodities, including iron ore, agricultural products, mining and industrial inputs and general freight throughout Queensland and Western Australia. Network Services business provides access to, and operation and management of the Central Queensland Coal Network. In January 2014 the Company announced that National Australia Bank Limited and its associated entities has ceased to be the substantial holder of the Company. Advisors' Opinion:
- [By MARKETWATCH]
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Australia stocks enjoyed early Monday gains after an advance for commodities and U.S. stocks since the last session, with a relatively good reception for earnings. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) improved by 0.4% to 5,376.30, with miners tracking gains in gold and copper. Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) added 1.3%, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) traded 1.1% higher, while gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. (AU:KCN) (KSKGF) rallied 2.2% and 4.7%, respectively. Banks rose after Wall Street shares climbed on Friday, with National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) up 1% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) adding 0.9%, though Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) dropped 2.4% as it traded without rights to its latest dividend. Coal transport firm Aurizon Holdings Ltd. (AU:AZJ) (QRNNF) tacked on 2.1% as its fiscal first-half underlying profit increased 18%, though net profit f