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Arkansas Best posts profits in 4th quarter after loss year before

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published January 30, 2014 at 7:11 a.m.

Arkansas Best Corp. on Thursday said it returned to profitability in the fourth quarter after posting a loss in the same period a year before.

The Fort Smith-based transportation company said it had net income of $10.3 million, or 38 cents a share, in the latest quarter compared with a loss of $7.9 million, or 31 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Revenue increased 7.7 percent from $537 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 to $578.5 million in 2013.

"After a very challenging year in which we negotiated and implemented a new five-year labor agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, I am very pleased to report that ABF Freight ended the year with solid profitability, substantially reversing the unacceptable trend of losses in 2012," President and CEO Judy McReynolds said in a statement. "While that lengthy process was ongoing, we continued to make important strategic investments in our emerging businesses, all of which reported increased revenues and are well positioned for additional growth in 2014."

The company said the profit in the fourth quarter was "generated by business and pricing increases and improved cost structure" realized in the new labor agreement. Arkansas Best subsidiary Panther Expedited Services Inc., meanwhile, saw its operating income nearly triple in the quarter, the company added.

For all of 2013, Arkansas Best had net income of $15.8 million, or 59 cents a share, up from a loss of $7.7 million, or 31 cents a share, in 2012.

A conference call on the earnings is set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday. It can be accessed by calling (800) 709-0218. A recording will be available on the Arkansas Best website or by calling (800) 633-8284 and using ID 21703284.

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