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Charting the top 50.

Charting The Top 50

39 of 50 Companies Survive Arkansas Business' Four-Year Watch

Of course, there are differences. But there also are some similarities between the Arkansas Business Top 50 privately held companies and their larger, publicly traded counterparts.

Consider this:

Some of the state's largest public companies, such as J. B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., are engaged in trucking and poultry processing.

So are several of the state's successful private companies.

The largest company on the private list is a less-than-truckload motor carrier, the $848.7-million Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith.

Another LTL carrier, Jones Truck Lines Inc. of Springdale, ranks 10th on the list based on 1990 revenues of $239.9 million. Last week, Jones ceased operations and filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court at Little Rock. The petition listed $103 million in debts and $87 million in assets.

Although two of the largest Arkansas public companies are national retailers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dillard Department Stores Inc., there are few Arkansas private retailing companies large enough to make the list.

M.M. Cohn, one of the state's oldest retailers, was on the 1988 list but fell off when the company was sold to a Texas corporation.

When the Arkansas Business Top 50 debuted in 1988, the majority of the companies were engaged in food processing, production or distribution.

That is still true.

Riceland Foods Inc. and Producers Rice Mill Inc. of Stuttgart are major rice millers and marketers.

Seven companies are involved in retail or wholesale grocery distribution. Three are poultry processors.

Still On The List

Thirty-nine of the original Top 50 companies remain on the list.

Most of the 11 companies that are no longer on the list were sold. Frank Lyon sold his Little Rock softdrink bottling company. The Truman Arnold Co. of Texarkana was sold to a French corporation.

A few companies fell from the Top 50 due to failures. Two savings associations were broken up and sold. Three companies, including Jones, filed bankruptcy.

Almost all the Top 50 companies that managed to stay on the list have increased gross revenues since 1987.

On the first list, which was based on 1987 revenues, the total gross for the Top 50 companies was $6.528 billion.

By 1990, that figure had risen to $8.643 billion.

Once 1991 revenues are recorded, the increase should be even more significant. At least a dozen Top 50 companies have increased in size due to expansions, mergers and acquisitions this year.

No. 19 Simmons Industries Inc. of Siloam Springs expanded into the turkey business late last year by buying Hubbard Foods of Minnesota.

No. 41. American Transportation Corp. of Conway, with $62 million in 1990 revenues, expects increased revenues because of a deal it signed with Navistar Corp. Navistar, a publicly traded company, bought one-third of Amtran.

Affiliated Foods Southwest of Little Rock, ranked third with gross revenues of $572.3 million in 1990, has acquired 72 stores in Texas.

And Riceland, a member of the Fortune 500, is consolidating 22 grain driers. Company officials say the move will not result in higher revenues, however.

Biggest Gainers and Losers

The biggest increase in revenues during the past four years was registered by Quality Foods Inc. of Little Rock, which had $44 million in sales in 1987 and estimated sales of $108 million in 1990 for an increase of 145 percent.

Another company that recorded significant growth during the four-year period was Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway, which grew from $71 million in 1987 to $129 million in 1990.

Continental Ozark Inc., a Fayetteville-based distributor of petroleum products, also registered an impressive gain in gross revenues -- 70 percent from 1987 to 1990.

Only a few companies reported gross revenues that were lower in 1990 than in 1987.

National Home Centers of Springdale went from $70 million in 1987 revenues to $58 million in 1988 and $57 million in 1989. Revenues for 1990 rose to $68 million, but it still left the building materials retailer with a loss of almost 3 percent for the four-year period.

The Mad Butcher Inc., a Pine Bluff grocery chain, was another Arkansas company whose gross revenues declined. The company's sales rose from $56 million in 1987 to $61 million in 1988. Revenues then fell to $58 million in 1989 and $50 million in 1990.

The Mad Butcher is an employee-owned company.

Twenty-seven of the Top 50 companies are headquartered in central Arkansas.

Northwest Arkansas is home to 17 of the Arkansas Business Top 50 companies.

Ranked by cities, Little Rock has the most Top 50 companies with 17, followed by North Little Rock and Springdale with five each. [Graph Omitted]

Carolyn Gibson Arkansas Business Staff
COPYRIGHT 1991 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Top 50 private companies in Arkansas, part 2
Author:Gibson, Carolyn
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 15, 1991
Previous Article:Class action: students' lawsuit against steno institute raises questions about private career schools.
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