USA Truck Founder Robert Powell Sells Company Stake

USA Truck Inc. founder and former CEO Robert Powell sold his stake of nearly 1 million shares in the Van Buren company.

Powell disclosed he had divested more than 980,000 shares in a Feb. 7 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing said Powell owned no shares as of the end of 2013.

Powell had owned 980,233 shares at the end of 2012. Powell, because he owned more than 5 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, was required by SEC rules to report any changes in stock ownership.

USA Truck (Nasdaq: USAK) began when Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith formed a truckload carrier named Crawford Produce Inc. after the trucking industry was deregulated. Powell, an Arkansas Best senior vice president, incorporated the company as USA Truck in 1986.

Powell and some investors purchased the company from Arkansas Best for $2.4 million and the assumption of more than $25 million in debt in 1989. The company completed its initial public offering by 1992.

Powell served as the CEO from 1988-2007 and was chairman of the board since 2000. He retired from the company in May 2011.

USA Truck is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter earnings report this month, although an exact date has not been announced. It reported narrower third-quarter losses on revenue that had risen 13.5 percent to $141.8 million.

The company’s improved performance was in the midst of a takeover bid by Knight Transportation Inc. of Phoenix, which announced it had offered $9 a share for the USA Truck plus the assumption of $147 million in debt.

USA Truck rejected the bid, and share price of the company rose steadily after Knight’s announcement. USA Truck filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Knight and that case will be heard in U.S. District Court on April 14.

USA Truck shares closed Friday at $14.75.

Knight owns more than 1.3 million shares of USA Truck, which has a “poison pill” shareholder rights agreement that goes into effect when one shareholder owns more than 15 percent. Knight’s stake is 12.4 percent, while Stone House Capital owns 1,550,000 shares (14.7 percent) and Baker Street Capital owns 1.4 million (13.3 percent).