Arkansas Best 1Q Loss Widens Amid Taxes, Costs

Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith on Friday announced a first quarter net loss of $18.2 million or 71 cents per share, a wider net loss than the $12.8 million 51 cents per share loss it announced in the same quarter last year.

The trucking firm, which has been striving to return to profitability, cited three unusual items that affected its results: a low corporate tax benefit rate (18 cents per share), high workers' compensation costs (13 cents per share) and investments in sales, customer service and information technology for its subsidiaries (12 cents per share).

The company also said that it had made a decision to "maintain customer service levels despite lower daily tonnage in the first quarter." Arkansas Best President and CEO Judy R. McReynolds said the company is positioning for "longer term success."

"The pricing measures we have taken have improved the incremental profitability of ABF's account base for future periods. Our deliberate actions of adding personnel and developing enhanced information technology systems, all designed to advance a high level of service and facilitate future growth, are essential investments for our company," McReynolds said.

"Our customers value our reliability and dependability. They are looking for a business partner who works closely with them to meet their unique logistics needs and requirements."

Arkansas Best has been seeing results in its efforts to turn around operations. The company swung from a loss to profit in its fourth quarter, reporting net income of $2.1 million. For the full year, the company recorded net income of $6.8 million, up from a net loss of $32.6 million in 2010. Revenue reached $1.91 billion, up from $1.66 billion in 2010.

Also Friday, McReynolds said in a conference call with shareholders that ABF paid out $33 million in
union pension payments in the first quarter, half of which went to non-ABF employees because of the
company's inclusion in a multi-employer pension plan. She said the company is part of a coalition of
firms looking at alternate plans.


McReynolds on Arkansas Best's Turnaround, Emerging Markets

(Mark Carter contributed to this story.)