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Third round of layoffs at Acxiom begins

A third, and likely final, wave of layoffs at Little Rock-based Acxiom Corp. began on Wednesday as the database marketer continued its push to realign its work force to meet changing industry demands. Acxiom indicated in November 2013 it would cut its overall labor force by March in an effort to save $20 million to $30 million annually. Approximately 200 workers nationwide were part of the latest round of layoffs with around 100 in Arkansas.

Walmart profits tumble

Revenues grew modestly, but profits took a tumble as Walmart reported its fourth-quarter and full-year financials. The Bentonville-based retail giant reported fourth-quarter net income of $4.43 billion on sales of $128.8 billion, an increase of 1.4 percent over last year. The quarter included the negative impact of about $1.8 billion from currency exchange rate fluctuations. Last year Walmart posted fourth-quarter profits of $5.86 billion on revenue of $127.77 billion.

USA Truck posts $9.1 million loss in 2013

USA Truck recorded a fourth-quarter loss of $4.6 million, including one-time charges of $1.5 million related to a hostile takeover bid, on revenue of $141.4 million. One year ago, USA Truck posted a $3.2 million loss on revenue of $134.7 million. For the full year, USA Truck saw its net loss shrink to $9.1 million from $17.6 million in 2012 on growing revenues of $555 million, up from $512.4 million one year ago.

Four join state Business Hall of Fame

The University of Arkansas Walton College of Business inducted four new members in the state’s Business Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include advertising executive James Faulkner, international businessman Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, farmer Stanley Reed and poultry magnate Mark Simmons.

Metropolitan merger costs drop Simmons First overall net income

Simmons First National Corporation’s $53.6 million buyout of Little Rock-based Metropolitan took a toll on fourth-quarter and year-to-date net income. The Pine Bluff-based bank holding company reported fourth quarter net income of $3.8 million, down from $8 million in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Simmons said core earnings were $7.7 million when one-time expenses were factored out.

Acxiom makes round of layoffs

Acxiom Corp. began a round of layoffs this week that corporate leaders suggested would be forthcoming when they last reported earnings. Roughly 50 workers, some in middle management positions, are part of this round of layoffs, although less than half are in Arkansas.

Calls for Darr’s resignation grow

Gov. Mike Beebe and a number of other Arkansas elected officials and candidates called on Lt. Gov. Mark Darr to resign after he was fined $11,000 for ethics violations. A review of Darr’s office expenses by legislative auditors also turned up discrepancies and improper payments for personal use. Darr said he had no plans to resign.

Tyson Foods closes year on record note

Tyson Foods closed its fiscal year on a strong note as it posted record sales and earnings, while announcing several leadership changes in its management structure. The Springdale-based meat company recorded fourth-quarter earnings of $261 million on sales of $8.89 billion. One year ago, Tyson Foods posted net income of $185 million on revenue of $8.32 billion.

Business Briefs - Pulaski County schools close to desegregation agreement, AG says

The three Pulaski County school districts will receive three years’ worth of desegregation payments, plus another year of equal payments for academic facilities only, under an agreement reached between Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office and the school districts, McDaniel told a legislative panel Thursday. McDaniel told the Joint Subcommittee on Desegregation Litigation Oversight that the agreement has not been finalized. However, he did express confidence that the districts’ school boards would agree to the deal.

Metropolitan National Bank turns another quarterly profit

Metropolitan National Bank announced a third quarter profit of $1.59 million. For the first three quarters of 2013, the Little Rock-based bank has posted $3.53 million in net income. In September, Metropolitan was acquired by Pine Bluff-based Simmons First for $53.6 million. Metropolitan’s parent company, Rogers Bancshares, had filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year following the death of its principal owner Doyle Rogers. The merger is expected to close at the end of December 2013 and the two banks will consolidate during the first quarter of 2014.

Arkansas Poll shows concerns growing on economy

The Arkansas Poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas, shows voter attitudes are more pessimistic than a year ago. When asked if the economy was heading in the right direction or wrong direction, 63 percent of voters said it was heading in the right direction versus 20 percent who indicated the economy was off-track. Last year, 73 percent of voters said the economy was heading in the right direction, while 17 percent said it was heading in the wrong direction. The poll was conducted during the government shutdown.

Conway, major developer announce $90 million Central Landing project

Landing at the Conway airport will soon take on a new meaning as Alabama-based Jim Wilson and Associates and the Conway Development Corp. announced a new $90 million upscale regional shopping center, Central Landing. On Thursday, Will Wilson, CEO of Jim Wilson and Associates, announced the 150-acre project that will take the soon-to-be-decommissioned airport property and redevelop it to include restaurant, retail, medical, office and multi-family use spaces. Wilson also said that plans could include two hotels and space available for economic development projects being recruited to Conway.

Federal government shutdown impacts Arkansas

The federal government shutdown had a major impact on Arkansas’ work force. From the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health, hundreds of state workers were furloughed as federal funding was put on hold. About 350 Little Rock Air Force Base civilians were placed on furlough, while the Arkansas National Guard halted certain operations impacting up to 10,000 guard members.