Arkansas Best posts smaller 4Q net loss

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Arkansas Best Corp. on Thursday, Feb. 3, announced a fourth-quarter 2010 net loss of $3.1 million compared to a fourth-quarter 2009 net loss of $88.7 million. The fourth-quarter 2009 results included charges for goodwill impairment and supplemental pension settlements. Excluding those charges, Arkansas Best had a fourth-quarter 2009 net loss of $22.1 million.

“Arkansas Best’s fourth-quarter and full-year results compared to last year reflect improvement associated with increased business levels and an LTL pricing environment that began improving in the fall,” said Judy McReynolds, president and chief executive officer of the Fort Smith, Ark.-based company. “The progress we have made this year is evidence of our team’s diligence in maintaining our core principles of selling value and delivering it safely and efficiently. Our steady management and consistent actions have put us in a better position for the future. As we move into a new year, we must work hard to achieve our goal of returning to healthy profitability levels through consistent business growth and improved account pricing.”

For the fourth quarter, Arkansas Best reported revenue of $441.1 million, a per-day increase of 18.7 percent over the prior-year quarter of $371.6 million. For the full year, revenue was $1.66 billion, a per-day increase of 12.3 percent over 2009 revenue of $1.47 billion.

For the fourth quarter, ABF Freight System Inc. reported revenue of $410.9 million compared to $347.7 million, a per-day increase of 18.2 percent. Tonnage per day increased 14.8 percent, and total billed revenue per hundredweight was $24.15 compared to $23.58, an increase of 2.4 percent; this measure increased 3.3 percent compared to the third-quarter 2010 figure of $23.38. Operating loss was $7.4 million compared to an operating loss of $32.4 million, and the operating ratio was 101.8 percent compared to 109.3 percent.

For the full year, revenue was $1.53 billion compared to $1.38 billion in 2009, a per-day increase of 10.5 percent. Tonnage per day increased 11.2 percent, and total billed revenue per hundredweight was $23.68 compared to $23.81, a decrease of 0.5 percent. Operating loss was $58.1 million compared to an operating loss of $99.9 million, and the operating ratio was 103.8 percent compared to 107.2 percent.

“During the 2010 period of modest economic improvement, ABF experienced year-over-year increases in monthly tonnage, even as prior-year comparisons became more challenging,” McReynolds said. “This improvement resulted from the efforts of ABF employees in providing a superior level of service to both existing customers and customers who were new to ABF.”

McReynolds said “some level of pricing rationality” has returned to the LTL marketplace. “Several positive signs indicate that industry pricing is improving and is moving toward a more appropriate level,” she said. At the beginning of October, ABF implemented a general rate increase of 5.9 percent, its second general rate increase of 2010. “Through the end of January 2011, this October general rate increase was holding well, thus positively influencing ABF’s revenue and its bottom line.”