Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Arkansas Best Corporation Announces Third Quarter 2009 Results

Arkansas Best Corporation today announced a third quarter 2009 net loss of $5.6 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, compared to net income of $15.4 million, or $0.60 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2008.

"Our third quarter results reflect the on-going impact of lower freight levels and competitive industry pricing that deteriorated further compared to the first half of the year," said Robert A. Davidson, Arkansas Best President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are now entering the fourth year of a severe freight decline that is unprecedented in our company's history. It is unclear when business levels will benefit from a significant improvement in our nation's economy. In the meantime, our company's emphasis will remain on providing a high level of value-added service to our customers while managing our business, for the long-term, through diligent cost control and disciplined pricing."

Arkansas Best Corporation Third Quarter 2009
-- Revenue of $399.0 million, a per day decrease of 19.5% from prior year quarter of $495.8 million

-- Net loss of $0.23 per diluted share compared to net income of $0.60 per diluted share in the prior year period

ABF Freight System, Inc. Third Quarter 2009
-- Revenue of $369.8 million compared to $476.3 million in third quarter of 2008, a per-day decrease of 22.4%
-- Tonnage per day decrease of 10.1% versus third quarter of 2008
-- Total billed revenue per hundredweight of $23.98 compared to $27.75, decrease of 13.6%, that is mainly attributable to the steep decline in fuel surcharge compared to the third quarter of 2008
-- Operating loss of $14.0 million compared to operating income of $25.2 million in third quarter of 2008
-- Operating ratio of 103.8% compared to 94.7% in third quarter of 2008

"The smaller decline in ABF's third quarter tonnage implies an improving freight environment compared to the first half of the year. However, this year-over-year trend is primarily related to comparisons back to last year's third quarter when business levels fell sharply. Nevertheless, this quarter's tonnage also benefited from modest market share gains from our LTL competitors," said Mr. Davidson. "On a sequential basis, ABF's third quarter tonnage trends were slightly better than normal, seasonal expectations. Though that trend has weakened somewhat since the last full week of September, we continue to add freight previously handled by other carriers. Regardless of business levels, we continue to manage the costs of the ABF network each day in line with the amount of available freight, while striving to maintain the high level of customized service that is important to ABF's customers."

"Industry LTL pricing further weakened during the third quarter. Declining yields, worsened by the recessionary economy, have made it more difficult to cover normal cost increases," said Mr. Davidson. "Despite a more price-sensitive environment, ABF has maintained its traditional emphasis on offering each customer a fair, competitive rate. ABF's history of pricing discipline has contributed to our current financial strength, and Arkansas Best's financial stability allows us to maintain high service levels and manage the company for the long-term benefit of our shareholders, employees and customers."

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