Arkansas Best Widens First Quarter Loss on Low Freight Levels

April 23, 2010

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The first quarter 2010 was marked by continued weakness in freight levels for Arkansas Best Corporation, with a net loss of $21.4 million, or 85 per share, compared to a net loss of $18.2 million, or 73 per share in the first quarter of 2009.

"Despite some signs of improvement in our nation's economy resulting in the stabilization of our business, Arkansas Best's first quarter results illustrate the ongoing effects of low freight levels combined with a weak pricing environment," said Judy R. McReynolds, Arkansas Best president and CEO. "We have continued our focus on long-term profitable growth and the customer-service-level commitments it takes to accomplish this objective."

Revenue was $359.9 million, a per day increase of 5.1 percent from the 2009 quarter of $339.7 million.

ABF Freight System, the less-than-truckload subsidiary of Arkansas Best, posted revenue of $333 million, compared to $323.1 million in first quarter 2009. In addition, tonnage per day was up 3.3 percent from the year-ago period.

"We are encouraged by the first quarter increases in ABF's tonnage versus very low totals last year," McReynolds said. "However, in order for ABF's operating results to improve in a meaningful way, we need further increases in freight demand, strong improvements in pricing and the positive financial impact of wage concessions."

Last week, ABF reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters Union that includes a 15 percent wage cut. The plan protects workers' benefits, however.

"We are pleased about this tentative agreement which has the overwhelming endorsement of the Teamster leadership," McReynolds said. "It offers ABF the opportunity to adjust its cost structure to be more comparable with the LTL marketplace."

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