ABF Freight System lost $7.4 million in the fourth quarter and $58.1 million in 2010 as it struggled to raise pricing, control costs and get back to profitability.
The fourth quarter and full year figures were a big improvement over the prior year, when the less-than-truckload carrier reported a $99.9 million operating loss.
The subsidiary of Arkansas Best increased its revenue 18.2 percent in the fourth quarter to $401.9 million and 10.5 percent for the year, to $1.53 billion.
ABF news from JOC:
LTL Expands Off Pallet
"Some level of rational pricing has returned to the LTL marketplace," said Judy R. McReynolds, president and CEO of Fort Smith, Ark.-based Arkansas Best.
ABF's total billed revenue per hundredweight increased 2.4 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter and 3.3 percent from the third quarter, a sign of rising rates.
The LTL carrier took a 5.9 percent general rate increase in October and the non-contract rate hike held up well through January, McReynolds said.
Higher rates combined with a 14.8 percent rise in tonnage per day to cut ABF's quarterly loss to $7.4 million compared with $32.4 million in the year-ago period.
"We must work hard to achieve our goal of returning to healthy profitability levels through consistent business growth and improved account pricing," she said.
The carrier files its first brief in the Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 18. The court said it would expedite the case and hold hearings in April.
A U.S. district court in Arkansas dismissed ABF's lawsuit in December, arguing the trucker didn't have jurisdiction to challenge its rival's labor agreements.
Costs associated with its union contract and the lawsuit increased ABF's operating ratio 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter to 101.8, and 103.8 for the full year.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.