Energy Industry Reports Higher Revenue But Not Recovery

by Joanna Kauffmann  on Monday, May. 23, 2011 12:00 am  

In terms of revenue, 2010 proved to be a better year for those companies in the energy industry on Arkansas Business' list of largest private companies.

(Click here for a list of the largest private companies in the energy sector.

Though their ranks range from high to low, across the board every company in the energy industry experienced an increase in revenue from 2009, most of which were in the double digits. And, regardless of where on the list they fell, almost every company came in at a higher spot than a year ago.

Arnold Truman Cos. of Texarkana, Texas, reclaimed the top spot on the list with revenue of about $2.3 billion, an 80 percent increase over 2009. While the other energy-related private companies didn't experience quite that much revenue increase, they all reported higher numbers for 2010.

Coulson Oil Co. Inc. of North Little Rock, for instance, enjoyed a 24.4 percent increase in revenue. Similarly, Flash Market Inc. of West Memphis reported a 28 percent increase in revenue.

The state's electric cooperatives, where revenue mirrors industrial output, were on the rise too. Mississippi County Electric Cooperative Inc. of Blytheville experienced turnaround from 2009 with a 39.4 percent revenue increase. Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. in Little Rock moved up the list with a 19.4 percent increase in revenue, while First Electric Cooperative Corp. in Jackson experienced a 17 percent increase over 2009.

Still, higher revenue figures are not necessarily a sign of recovery, especially when compared with a difficult 2009. 

"You'll see that we hit a fairly dramatic low in early 2009," said Tom Knight, vice president of supply and trading for Truman Arnold Cos. In July 2008, Knight said, crude oil was at an all-time high of above $147. In January 2009, crude bottomed out at $32.40, and much of the year was spent working back up from that low number.

"As a result that tended to distort the overall price level for the year."

Knight said that many companies in the energy sector experienced that curve in prices from 2008 to 2010, which contributed to higher revenues in 2010, though not necessarily to recovery in the industry. 

In 2011, Knight said, he expects revenues will continue to rise, though the year will still be tough.

"2011 is turning out to be a very, very difficult year for different segments of the industry," he said. "The upstream side of the business is probably enjoying a robust year because of high crude prices. Refiners have similarly enjoyed a productive year thus far."

For those in the gasoline retailing business, however, Knight said, "It's been a very hard year so far."

All in all, Knight said, 2011 promises to be a challenge, and revenue does not necessarily equal recovery.



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