Tough 2008 Shows on List of State's Largest Private Companies

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 25, 2009 12:00 am  

Wehco dropped off Advertising Age's list of the 100 largest media companies in 2007, when the cutoff was $301 million. Since then, the parent company of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has acquired more newspaper properties, but it began tightening its belt with a hiring and wage freeze in August 2008 followed by layoffs and other cuts in 2009.



A few companies actually reported significant revenue improvement in 2008.

Riceland Foods Inc., the giant rice cooperative at Stuttgart, enjoyed revenue that was up almost 30 percent in the fiscal year that ended July 31, allowing it to move from No. 5 to No. 3 on this year's list. That tracked almost perfectly with the increase in the average price for rice, which was $12.80 per hundredweight in the fall 2007 harvest compared with $9.96 in the 2006 season.

Producers Rice Mills Inc., also of Stuttgart, did even better. Its revenue was up 58 percent, to $533.4 million in its fiscal year, which also ended July 31, 2008. And rice prices were up another 30 percent for the 2008 harvest, which bodes well for both rice cooperatives when we rank them next year.

Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs benefited from a recessionary retreat from restaurant dining. It sold $735 million worth of canned and frozen vegetables in the fiscal year that ended Feb. 28, 2009, up more than 20 percent from the previous year.

Perfect 10 Distributing Co., which sold more than $422 million worth of satellite television equipment in 2005 before dropping to less than half that in 2007, is back on the rise with the advent of high-definition satellite receivers. It climbed three spots to No. 39 on this week's list with $237.8 million in revenue last year.



Two companies that were longtime residents of the largest private companies list have disappeared this year because they no longer meet the definition of "Arkansas-based, Arkansas-owned."

The largest was CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, which was No. 15 on last year's list with 2007 revenue of $575 million. Half-owned by publicly traded Dillard's Inc. since its founding in 1987, CDI became a wholly owned subsidiary when Dillard's bought the remaining half from the heirs of co-founder Bill Clark in August 2008.



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