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Wal-Mart, Dillard's lead state firms in income: truckers report biggest increases.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON PROpelled Arkansas' retailing giants to the top of Arkansas Business' quarterly ranking of public companies.

Based on its net income, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, the largest retailer in the country, leads the list every quarter.

Wal-Mart's net income for its fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31, was $749.6 million, an increase of 24 percent from the fourth quarter of 1991.

Dillard Department Stores Inc. of Little Rock had net income of $110.5 million in its fourth quarter, an 18 percent improvement over the fourth quarter of 1991.

Five of the six publicly traded trucking firms showed dramatic improvement over the corresponding prior quarter, led by Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith.

Arkansas Best, with subsidiaries primarily engaged in less-than-truckload shipments, reported the best improvement of any Arkansas public company. Arkansas Best reported net income of $3.6 million, up 472 percent from a $969,000 loss in the fourth quarter of 1991. A change in accounting methods contributed to Arkansas Best's loss in 1991.

USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren increased its net income 319 percent, from $310,000 in the fourth quarter of 1991 to $1.3 million in the fourth quarter of 1992.

"A lot of the increase was because we were paying a lot less interest in 1992 vs. 1991," says Robert M. Powell, president of USA Truck. "That and just operating more efficiently is what caused the improvement."

Powell says the funds from USA Truck's public stock offering in March 1992 were used to pay off a big percentage of its debt and to buy equipment. USA Truck's long-term debt fell from $20 million at the end of 1991 to $7.8 million at the end of 1992.

USA Truck has averaged 20 percent growth in revenues over the past three years. Revenues should increase 15-18 percent in 1993, Powell says.

The company has 535 trucks and expects to have 572 by the end of the year. Each truck produces average annual revenues of $125,000-$128,000, Powell says.

Another trucking operation, American Freightways Corp. of Harrison, more than doubled its net income. American Freightways' net income of $4 million in its fourth quarter was an improvement of 186 percent.

Arkla Inc., the natural gas company with corporate offices in Little Rock and Shreveport, La., had the worst quarter of Arkansas' 26 public companies. Arkla lost $223 million in its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31. That compares with net income of $11.4 million in the fourth quarter of 1991.

For the year, Arkla lost $228.6 million on revenues of $2.5 billion.

Beverly Enterprises Inc. of Fort Smith lost $32.5 million in the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31. Beverly sold 33 poorly performing nursing homes in November 1992 and accounted for the cost of the sale, estimated at $57 million, in the fourth quarter.

Book of Lists

Readers have shown much interest in our "1993 Book of Lists," which subscribers received with their regular issue of Arkansas Business last month.

Copies of the "Book of Lists," a compilation of all the lists Arkansas Business ran in 1992, are still available.

Readers have pointed out several omissions on the 40 lists we published. If they qualify for our next ranking, these firms will be included in our "1994 Book of Lists."

* On the securities dealers list, the Little Rock office of PaineWebber Inc., Prudential Securities Inc. in Little Rock and Simmons First National Investments of Pine Bluff were omitted.

* On the architectural firms list, Wellborn Henderson Associates of Little Rock was omitted.

* On the engineering firms list, Woodward-Clyde Consultants of Little Rock was omitted.

* On the home builders list, BMP Development Corp. of Fayetteville was omitted.

* On the list of Arkansas' top 50 private companies, Riverside Furniture Corp. of Fort Smith was omitted.

* On the advertising agencies list, Chester Storthz Advertising of Little Rock was omitted.

* On the automobile dealers list, Smith Chevrolet-Cadillac-Geo Co. of Fort Smith was inaccurately listed as being in Stuttgart.
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Title Annotation:Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Dillard Department Stores Inc.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 19, 1993
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