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McClatchy-Tribune  01/30/2014 1:30 PM ET
Arkansas Best Reports Profitable 2013 [Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. :: ]

Jan. 30--Arkansas Best Corp. saw greater stability and growth in 2013, with a net income of $15.8 million compared to a $7.7 million net loss the year before.

It's the first time since the first quarter of 2008 that the Fort Smith-based trucking company has seen a profit.

On Thursday, the publicly traded company reported 2013 revenue of $2.3 billion, an increase of 11 percent from 2012. The 2013 fourth quarter net income was $10.3 million compared to a net loss of $7.9 million the same quarter 2012.

Increased business levels and improved account pricing were the primary factors that contributed to fourth quarter 2013 profits for Arkansas Best's ABF Freight Systems, a new release states. Cost savings were related to the early November implementation of ABF Freight's new labor agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

An emerging trend is Arkansas Best's non-asset-based businesses like Panther Expedited.

"We expect to see a more balanced revenue source, with these emerging businesses growing more," Arkansas Best President and CEO Judy R. McReynolds said during a Thursday morning conference call. "This is really not just because we want to, it's more about what customers are demanding, and we're seeing needs beyond the LTL business. With the addition of Panther we've been able to further our services there."

Arkansas Best acquired Panther Expedited Services in 2012 for $180 million. Arkansas Best's non-asset-based businesses represented 25 percent of the company's total 2013 consolidated revenue.

Looking ahead to 2014, McReynolds said Arkansas Best has a focus of growing those non-asset-based businesses.

"We have acquisitions on our radar screen," McReynolds said. "We have organic opportunities as well. It's not about one strategy or one approach."


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