Local stocks bode well in first quarter of 2013

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 97 views 

When the closing bell rang on Thursday (March 28) on Good Friday eve, shareholders from shore to shore were surely smiling from ear to ear.

Widespread profits abound. And with no markets open on Good Friday, Thursday was the official end of the first quarter in 2013.

The benchmark S&P 500 closed its strongest quarter in a year – up 10%. The Dow climbed 11.3% and the Nasdaq gained 8.2% for the first three months of the year.

Eight companies based in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith also posted strong results over the first quarter, which is good news for the thousands of local shareholders who live in the four counties between Fort Smith and Bentonville.

Springdale-based Tyson Foods set a new 52-week high on Thursday closing at $24.82, up 2.65% on the day. Shares are up an impressive 24.22% this year. Tyson recently garnered praise from CNBC’s Jim Cramer who rates the stock a buy. He cites solid stock price performance, revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and growth in earnings per share. Tyson will report second quarter earnings on May 6.

Stockholders of Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport enjoyed a smooth ride in the first quarter of 2013.  Earlier in the week the stock set a new 52-week high price of $75.34. The shares rallied back after some profit taking midweek to close Thursday at $74.48, up 62 cents. During the first quarter shares rose 21.58%. J.B. Hunt will report first quarter earnings on April 11.

Shares of the thinly traded truckline P.A.M. Transportation closed Thursday at $11, up 5.35%. For the full quarter P.A.M. shares rose 14.22% from the $9.63 level where they began trading on Jan. 3. The Tontitown-based operation will report first quarter earnings on April 22.

Van-Buren-based USA Truck stock closed Thursday at $4.91, up 7 cents or 1.45%. The shares rose 44.83% from where they began the year at $3.39. Shares remain down some 37% from one year ago. In February John Simone was appointed CEO, and former CEO Cliff Beckham returned to his previous role of chief financial officer. USA Truck will report first quarter earnings sometime in mid-April.

Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp., the parent of ABF Freight System, was the one locally based firm in this report to end the quarter with a downward tick. Shares closed Thursday at $11.68, down 13 cents, or 1.1% lower than the previous day. For the full quarter shares rose 19.3%. In the three month period shares traded as high as $12.78 in the past two weeks. The 52-week high for the shares is $19.38 which was set in March 2012. The less-than-truckload trucking company will report its first quarter earnings in April.

America’s Car-Mart and its shareholders had quite a joyride in the first quarter of 2013. The stock closed Thursday at $46.74, up $1.15, or 2.40%. Car-Mart shares started the year $41.30 and rose as high as $49.52 last week. For the full quarter the shares were up 13.17%.  Bentonville-based Car-Mart will report its fourth quarter results on May 20.

Shares of widely held Wal-Mart Stores Inc. closed at $74.83, up 5 cents on Thursday. The retailer’s stock price rose 8.76% in the first quarter of 2013, but fell shy of the annual high $77.60 set in October of last year. Wal-Mart will report first quarter earnings on May 16.