Arkansas Best Rebounds From Full-Year, Quarterly Losses

Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith on Thursday reported results showing the trucking and logistics services company back in the black for the fourth quarter and the full year.

The publicly traded firm reported fourth-quarter profit of $10.3 million, or 38 cents per share, up from a loss of $7.9 million, or 31 cents per share. Quarterly revenue was $578.5 million, up almost 8 percent from $537.0 million in the same quarter last year.

For the full year of 2013, the company reported profit of $15.8 million, or 59 cents per share, up from a loss of $7.7 million, or 31 cents per share, in 2012. Revenue reached $2.3 billion, up 11 percent from $2.1 billion in 2012.

President and CEO Judy McReynolds said the company ended 2013 with "solid profitability, substantially reversing the unacceptable trend of losses in 2012."

"Everyone at Arkansas Best and our operating companies is energized by the opportunities in front of us," she said. "We are working hard to offer a more easily accessible range of services along with the traditional high level of personal commitment to a job well done that our customers have come to expect." 

The rebound follows a long year of contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Arkansas Best sealed the five-year labor agreement with the union in October. The deal, which covers about 7,500 employees and runs through March 2018, was welcomed on Wall Street and described by McReynolds as a "milestone." The company said it expected to save between $55 million and $65 million annually through lowered labor costs and other benefits.

On Thursday, Arkansas Best said it believes that clarity resulting from the deal contributed to higher average rates on fourth-quarter shipments in its largest subsidiary, ABF Freight. The company also cited increased business levels and better use of its shipping capacity.