Arkansas Best's 3rd-quarter profit drops 47%

Posted: November 1, 2012 at 7:31 a.m.

Arkansas Best Corp. made a profit of $6.5 million, or 24 cents per share, in the third quarter, the Fort Smith-based trucker said Thursday.

That represents at 47 percent decline from earnings of $12.3 million, or 46 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2011; and a 44 percent drop from second-quarter earnings of $11.8 million, or 44 cents per share.

Arkansas Best, the parent company of ABF Freight System Inc., had predicted in September that its third-quarter results would be weak, citing a depressed manufacturing sector.

“Arkansas Best’s results reflect weakness in the economy that contributed to reduced customer business levels and lower profitability at ABF. The slowing business environment also reduced the demand for expedited services at Panther,” Arkansas Best President and Chief Executive Officer Judy R. McReynolds said in a Thursday statement, referring to Panther Expedited Services Inc., a subsidiary that provides logistics.

“However, at our emerging non-asset-based companies, we are encouraged by the continuation of strong revenue and improving profitability trends in the midst of a tenuous economy.”

Business levels at ABF Freight were down by 1.4% from last year, McReynolds said, citing the “soft economic environment” and price increases implemented through most of last year.

The biggest pinch the trucker faced in the quarter related to its labor-union contract, plus nonunion benefit costs related to employee pensions, retirement and health care, the company said.

The company said it hopes the situation will be ameliorated by the previously announced labor-union talks between ABF and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters negotiators set for Dec. 18.

“ABF’s next labor agreement offers an opportunity for us to work together with the Teamsters and our employees to ensure that ABF is viable in the marketplace and able to grow jobs and effectively compete for additional, profitable business,” McReynolds said.

The company will hold a live conference call with executives at 8:30 a.m. Those interested may listen in by calling (800) 618-4645.

The call is also being webcast and will be available online at

After the call, a recorded playback will be available until Dec. 2 by dialing (800) 633-8284 and entering the ID number 21607032, the company said.