Arkansas Best Corp. to become ArcBest, stock ticker symbol to change

by The City Wire staff ( 172 views 

Christmas may come early to select signage and print companies with Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp. announcing Wednesday (April 30) that as of May 1 the transportation holding company will rename and rebrand to ArcBest Corporation.

The company that began in 1923 as OK Transfer and operated a few truck routes around Fort Smith morphed into a corporate holding company in 1966 under the Arkansas Best Corporation moniker. ABF Freight was the largest subsidiary of the company. In late 1972, the company went public with an initial ticker symbol of ABZ on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is now listed as ABFS and trades on the NASDAQ exchange.

But that symbol will also change on May 1 to ARCB.

The new name and “unified logo system” was crafted to enhance the company’s identity as a holistic provider of transportation and logistics solutions for a wide variety of customers,” noted the company statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

“This marks an exciting new era for our organization,” ArcBest President and Chief Executive Officer Judy McReynolds said in the statement. “The new name, logo system and advertising campaign we are unveiling allow us to more clearly communicate our total value proposition to our customers, our employees and our shareholders through one unified identity under the ArcBest umbrella.”

With one exception, names of the operating subsidiaries under ArcBest will remain the same. Those are ABF Freight, ABF Logistics, Cleveland-based Panther Premium Logistics and Cherryville, N.C.-based FleetNet America.

The exception is with Data-Tronics, the information technology division. The new name will be ArcBest Technologies.

ABF Logistics will now include the household goods moving services businesses now known as ABF Moving. ABF Moving includes the the U-Pack brand, and services providing corporate relocation and military moves.

The company is holding an event Thursday morning (May 1) at the Fort Smith Convention Center to roll out the new name and branding. Former NASA astronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski is the featured speaker. Parazynski, who flew on five shuttle missions and participated in seven spacewalks, is a popular corporate leadership speaker.

David Humphrey, vice president of Investor Relations for ArcBest, said the name changes were studied for several months. When asked about the costs to implement such changes, he said there will be costs but they will not be “a material number.”

And was the name change partially motivated by any concern about a growing national and global company being linked to one state? Humphrey said that was “one of numerous considerations” but the overriding factor was to “unify the whole thing and get everybody working together” and present a unified array of services to existing and potential customers.

Humphrey also said Board Chairman Robert A. Young III “is fully supportive” of the change. Young is the son of Robert A. Young Jr., who acquired the company in 1951 and is credited with growing it into being one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the U.S.

ArcBest is scheduled to release first quarter earnings after the markets close on Thursday. The consensus estimate among the 15 analysts who cover the company is an 8 cent per share loss during the first quarter on total revenue of $551.35 million. The company posted a 52 cent per share loss during the first quarter of 2013.

Company shares (NASDAQ: ABFS) closed Wednesday at $39.42, up $1.42. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from a $39.79 high to a $9.67 low.