Arkansas Best, Baldor see quarterly gains in share price

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 50 views 

Two of three publicly held companies based in the Fort Smith region saw impressive share price gains during the third quarter, with Van Buren-based USA Truck surviving the quarter with a 6.2% decline in share price.

Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp., parent company of ABF Freight System, saw its shares (NASDAQ: ABFS) end the quarter (Sept. 30) at $29.94, up 7.5% from its closing price on the first day of the quarter. The gain was impressive considering the steep decline in national freight demand that has plagued the trucking industry since October 2006. The shares flirted with the mid $30s in mid-September, closing at a quarterly high of $33.97 on Sept. 11.

The company announced July 22 a second quarter net income loss of $15.4 million, marking the third consecutive quarter the company posted a loss — and with those losses adding up to about $44.5 million in the past nine months. Second quarter revenue topped out at  $362.6 million, a per day decrease of 26.7% from the $498.5 million in the 2008 period.

For the first six months of 2009, Arkansas Best has lost $33.6 million, compared to a net income of $24.6 million in the first six months of 2008.

Fort Smith-based Baldor Electric Co. began the quarter with July 1 share price close of $24.47. Company shares (NYSE: BEZ) closed the quarter at $27.54, an 11.7% share price increase for the 90-day period.

And considering the woes faced by the national manufacturing sector — Baldor is a maker, designer and marketer of electric motors, motor drives, power transmissions and generators — the company’s share price gains also are impressive. The share price hovered around $30 in mid-September, and reached a quarterly high of $30.14 on Sept. 16.

The company announced July 30 second quarter net sales were $384.67 million, down 24% from the same quarter of 2008. The company reported $7.79 million in net income for the quarter, down more than 73% over the same quarter in 2008.

For the first six months of the year, Baldor’s net sales totaled $787.21 million, down 19%; and net income in the six-month period was $44.21 million, down 20% from the same period in 2008.

Van Buren-based USA Truck Inc., also hit by the national freight recession, saw its shares (NASDAQ: USAK) close the quarter at $12.70, down from the July 1 close of $13.54.

The company announced July 16 its second quarter delivered a net loss of $1.14 million, compared to second quarter 2008 net income of $2.13 million. For the first six months of 2009, the long-haul trucking company posted a loss of $3.02 million. Total revenue for the period is $185.8 million, down 32% from the revenue of the first six months of 2008.

The company said it has suffered from having an “historical freight network” tied to the midwest U.S. that has seen a “collapse of the automotive industry” and downturn in other manufacturers located in that area.

And near the end of the third quarter, the company learned that a federal court had upheld a $4.6 million claim against it for a breach of contract with All-Ways Logistics.

The third quarter share price movement of a few other companies with operations in the Fort Smith/Van Buren area.

• BancorpSouth
Sept. 30: $24.41
July 1: $20.65

• Bank of the Ozarks
Sept. 30: $26.53
July 1: $21.50

• Dillard’s
Sept. 30: $14.10
July 1: $9.45

• OG&E
Sept. 30: $33.08
July 1: $29.03

• Simmons First
Sept. 30: $28.81
July 1: $27.30

• Tyson Foods
Sept. 30: $12.63
July 1: $12.91

• Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Sept. 30: $49.09
July 1: $48.37

• Whirlpool
Sept. 30: $69.96
July 1: $44.79