Energy Companies See Revenue Jump

The recession seems far off for Arkansas' private energy companies, with almost all of those represented on Arkansas Business' list of the state's largest private companies having significant jumps in revenue since last year.

(Click here for the list of Arkansas' largest private energy companies.)

Truman Arnold Cos. of Texarkana, Texas, far surpasses the next largest company, Flash Market Inc. of West Memphis. TAC's 32 percent increase in revenue, to $3 billion, was a record for both TAC and for the list, which has always recognized Texarkana companies on either side of the state line.

Flash Market Inc. broke the $1 billion mark in 2011, a 21 percent increaseincreasing 21 percent from last year's $873 million. It runs about 85 convenience stores at gas stations mostly throughout Arkansas and Tennessee. The next largest convenience store, E-Z Mart Inc. of Texarkana, is also approaching the $1 billion threshold, having grown 21 percent from $788 million to $955 million.

One other gas station convenience store chain, Crackerbox Food Stores of Hot Springs, saw a slight increase of 7 percent from $229 million to $245 million.

The state's electric cooperatives, which provide utilities for residents in mostly rural areas, also saw revenue increases.

Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. jumped 12 percent to $657 million, and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. of Little Rock rose 14 percent to $357 million.

Only one fell, and it was a small change: First Electric Cooperative Corp. of Jacksonville slid 1.4 percent to $165 million.

Doug White, vice president and corporate spokesman for AECI, said the revenue increases in 2011 had to do with a frigid, extended winter followed almost immediately by record highs.

"It was a combination of the heat in the summer, but really winter is where we saw significant gains and lows in our kilowatt-hour sales," White said.

Utility co-ops can also build revenue through increased kilowatt-hour sales when economic development occurs in various regions.

"There was a little bit of that in the northwest part of the state," White said. "Despite a rough economy nationwide, some in that territory had nice growth spurts."

Revenue gains and losses aren't really the focus of utility co-ops, however. Profits are returned to members in the forms of capital credits - essentially, dividends that can be cash or credit for utility bills.

"We're essentially revenue-neutral," White said. "For the most part, co-ops just try to break even every year."

Most of the companies remained in the same slots as 2011, with the notable exception of Mid-South Sales Inc. of Jonesboro, a petroleum supplier that saw its revenue jump 22 percent from $75.8 million last year to $92.4 million in 2012.

The company provides petroleum in Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri.