Arkansas Best’s 1Q net loss widens

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Updated Apr 30, 2012

Arkansas Best Corp. on Friday, April 27, announced a first-quarter 2012 net loss of $18.2 million compared to a net loss of $12.8 million in the first quarter of 2011. Revenue was $440.9 million, a per-day increase of 0.6 percent over the prior-year quarter of $434.9 million.

The Fort Smith, Ark.-based company said its results were impacted by a number of unusual items, including a low corporate tax benefit rate, high ABF workers’ compensation costs and investments in sales, customer service and information technology for all subsidiaries.

ABF said results also were impacted by decisions to maintain customer service levels despite lower daily tonnage in the first quarter. ABF’s daily tonnage levels were impacted by pricing actions taken throughout 2011, and an economic environment that was sluggish and inconsistent, despite some improvement throughout the first quarter.

“Although first-quarter results do not meet our expectations, we are positioning our company for longer-term success,” said Judy McReynolds, Arkansas Best president and chief executive officer. “The pricing measures we have taken have improved the incremental profitability of ABF’s account base for future periods.”

McReynolds said Arkansas Best’s 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 the company. “Our customers value our reliability and dependability,” she said. “They are looking for a business partner who works closely with them to meet their unique logistics needs and requirements.”

According to the company, on a sequential basis versus the same period in March, tonnage trends in April 2012 are the best ABF has experienced in more than 20 years due to freight from new customers, additional shipments from existing accounts and the return of previously lost customers in response to service failures by competitors. Although, as expected, ABF’s April 2012 tonnage is below the same period last year, the comparative trends are above expectations and encouraging, the company says.