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Revenue at Largest Private Companies Ranges From $80 Million to $3 Billion

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Truman Arnold Cos. returned to the top of Arkansas Business’ annual list of the state’s largest private companies last year and remains there with 2011 annual revenue that is more than double the next-highest confirmed figure on the list.

(Click here for a PDF list of the largest private companies ranked 1 to 40. Click here for companies ranked 41-75. For more about the list, click here.)

(Click here for related stories on private companies by region and industry.)

TAC, a petroleum wholesaler and provider of aviation services, reported more than $3 billion in sales in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The price of petroleum products in the months since suggests that the company – listed even though it is on the Texas side of Texarkana – isn’t likely to budge from that spot next year.

Asked earlier this year to predict fiscal 2012 revenue, Chief Financial Officer Steve McMillen said, “At the current run-rate I would expect us to be in line with last fiscal year.” But that was before last week’s announcement that its TAC Air division had acquired Keystone Aviation LLC of Salt Lake City and planned to announce further acquisitions in coming months.

No. 2 on the list is Stephens Inc., thanks to the most recent revenue estimate by The Gale Group of $1.8 billion. But the secretive Stephens organization has not confirmed that or any other figure. The financial services firm is undoubtedly among the largest private companies owned and headquartered in Arkansas, but its exact ranking is uncertain.

Mountaire Corp. of North Little Rock – which has 5,760 employees, only 38 of them in Arkansas – remains at No. 3, with revenue confirmed by the company of almost $1.34 billion. And Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield holds onto the No. 4 position with a 5 percent increase in revenue last year.

Poultry and pet food processor Simmons Foods Inc. of Siloam Springs moved up two places to No. 5, overtaking both Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart and Stephen LaFrance Pharmacy Inc. of Little Rock, with revenue of $1.25 billion last year.

Riceland, which had been in the No. 2 spot just two years ago, fell from No. 5 to No. 6 after a second consecutive year of declining revenue. The good news for the dominant cooperative of rice farmers is that revenue was down only slightly – 1.4 percent – in 2011, nothing like the 13.5 percent hit it took in 2010. (See related story.)

LaFrance Pharmacy, the parent company of the USA Drug chain, is No. 7 on this year’s list, with revenue estimated by the Chain Drug Review trade journal at $1.08 billion.

The number of private companies with confirmed or estimated annual revenue in excess of $1 billion grew to nine in fiscal 2011 as Flash Market Inc. of West Memphis and RLJ McLarty Landers Automotive Holdings LLC both broke through the 10-figure mark. This year, hospital operator Baptist Health of Little Rock could well reach that threshold as well.

Although the changes to the list have been dramatic since Arkansas Business first ranked the state’s largest private companies in 1988, only five of the 75 companies were not on the list last year:

  • Landers Toyota, Steve Landers’ re-established family-owned dealership in Little Rock, debuts at No. 36 after an Arkansas Business survey of car dealerships last year revealed that it should have been on the list.
  • Similarly, Lewis Auto Group of Fayetteville has been added to the list, coming in at No. 72.
  • Arkansas Heart Hospital, now locally owned after Dr. Bruce Murphy led a buyout from Medcath Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., last year, enters the list at No. 28, with revenue of $129 million.
  • Tobacco Superstores of Forrest City arrives at No. 63 based on $110 million in revenue last year. Revenue for the chain of discount tobacco stores was formerly included in the total reported by Forrest City Grocery Co., No. 14 on last year’s list. The bulk of the grocery business was sold to Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif., in 2010, but the Cohn family retained ownership of 74 Tobacco Superstores. Ten additional stores operated by licensees generated about $12 million in 2011, according to CFO Joe Marelle. And Memphis Cash & Carry, a related business that was formerly reported as part of Forrest City Grocery Co., had revenue of $33 million last year.
  • Latco Inc., James Latta’s poultry house construction company in Lincoln (Washington County), returns to the list at No. 75 after being sidelined by the Great Recession. Latco reported a 60 percent increase in revenue, from $50 million in 2010 to $80 million last year, raising the floor of the list by almost $15 million since last year.

The sale of Forrest City Grocery created room on the list for one of those five. The other names that fell off the list since last year are:

  • O.K. Industries of Fort Smith, which was acquired last year by Industrias Bachoco S.A.B. de C.V of Mexico.
  • Carco Capital Inc. of Fort Smith, which didn’t make the $80 million cutoff after revenue dropped by almost 9 percent last year to $67 million.
  • HealthScope Benefits of Little Rock, which didn’t make the cutoff despite revenue last year of just under $70 million, an improvement of more than 7 percent over 2010.
  • Northwest Oil Co. of Fayetteville, which was removed because an earlier estimate of its revenue could not be independently confirmed.

ArkansasBusiness.com reported last week that Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Arkansas Inc., No. 47 on the list, is merging with Colorado Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. and South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. It’s not known where the combined company will be headquartered.

Insurance carrier rating service A.M. Best Co. of Oldwick, N.J., downgraded the Little Rock Farm Bureau’s financial strength rating, citing its “fourth straight year of underwriting losses.”

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