Arkansas Best Corp. reported a first quarter 2013 net loss despite continued encouraging trends in its emerging businesses. 

Year-over-year revenue and tonnage growth at LTL carrier ABF Freight System, Inc., were offset by higher wage and benefit costs for employees represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Arkansas Best's first quarter 2013 revenue was $520.7 million compared to revenue of $440.9 million in the first quarter of 2012. The first quarter net loss was $13.4 million, or $0.52 per share, compared to a first quarter 2012 net loss of $18.2 million, or $0.71 per share. 

Last year's first quarter results included the effects of an unusually low corporate tax benefit rate and unusually high workers' compensation claims costs.  Combined, these items increased last year's first quarter net loss by $0.31 per share.

Arkansas Best's emerging, non-asset-based businesses continue to display strength in their revenue growth and cash flow generation.  Freight brokerage and vehicle roadside and preventive maintenance grew first-quarter revenue 82% and 45%, respectively, and improved operating income.

Operating results at Panther Expedited Services, Inc., were impacted by reduced demand for expedited services and investments made in sales and service locations for future growth.

ABF Freight's first-quarter operating loss deepened despite revenue growth and improving business levels. Arkansas Best President and Chief Executive Officer Judy R. McReynolds noted that the company's high-cost structure continues to weigh on results, underscoring the need for a more rational labor agreement that reflects the increasingly competitive LTL industry. "After months of hard work and a second extension of contract talks through May 31, the negotiating teams continue to make progress on developing a contract agreement for our Teamster-represented employees that is expected to provide ABF greater operational flexibility and lower costs in order to effectively compete in the future."