Little Rock-based Bank of the Ozarks announced Thursday that it has entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger with Summit Bancorp Inc. and its wholly-owned bank subsidiary Summit Bank. Bank of the Ozarks will acquire the Arkadelphia-based bank for $216 million.
Summit Bank operates 23 banking offices and one loan production office in nine Arkansas counties. At December 31, 2013, Summit Bank had about $1.2 billion of total assets, $778 million of loans and $994 million of deposits. The move will push Bank of the Ozarks to more than $6 billion in total assets.
Tyson Foods first quarter profits leap
Tyson Foods pulled in a first quarter profit of $254 million, up nearly 47 percent from the previous year as all segments of the Springdale-based meat giant performed better. Total revenue for Tyson Foods in the quarter was $8.76 billion, an improvement from $8.36 billion one year ago.
“I’m very pleased with our strong first quarter results, and I’m confident in my expectations for the full year,” Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, said in the earnings statement. “We’re growing sales and earnings and executing our strategy — including making our third prepared foods acquisition in less than a year — while reinvesting in our existing businesses and buying back shares.”
Cotton only Arkansas vote against farm bill
GOP Rep. Tom Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ Congressional delegation to vote against the Farm Bill, a compromise measure that emerged after House and Senate negotiators ironed out differences in previously passed bills. The Farm Bill funds direct payment programs to farmers, crop insurance programs and food assistance for families.
Republican Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford both served on the conference committee that developed the final measure. Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who is being challenged by Rep. Cotton, voted for the bill.
Arkansas Best turns corner to profitability
Arkansas Best appears to have turned the corner. The Fort Smith-based less-than-truckload trucking firm posted fourth quarter net income of $10.3 million, a big swing from last year’s fourth quarter loss of $7.9 million. Revenue rose to $578.55 million during the quarter, up from $537.04 million last year.
For the full year, Arkansas Best recorded profits of $15.8 million, a major turnaround from a $7.7 million loss in 2012. Revenues rose to $2.99 billion for the full year, an improvement from $2.06 billion one year ago.
Murphy Oil 2013 profits top $1 billion
Murphy Oil Corp. saw a diminished fourth quarter because of the spin-off of its refinery and retail operations, but its full-year earnings topped $1 billion. For the fiscal year, Murphy Oil’s 2013 net income cleared $1.12 billion, up from $970.9 million one year ago. In the fourth quarter, the El Dorado-based firm saw profits fall to $75.4 million, down from $158.7 million in 2012′s fourth quarter.
A variety of one-time charges swung earnings lower in the fourth quarter, including lower oil sales prices and higher expenses for the abandonment of operations in the Republic of Congo. In August 2013, Murphy Oil spun off its refinery and retail operations into a new public company, Murphy USA.
Acxiom net income improves
Acxiom Corp. saw its third-quarter net income rise to $15.0 million, up from $14.5 million one year ago. Revenues also climbed higher to $277.87 million during the quarter, an improvement from $273.1 million in the previous year.
The Little Rock-based data marketer — which has been downsizing its work force, realigning its internal operations and expanding its client offerings — saw higher revenue in two of its three key segments.
Arkansas jobless rate falls slightly
Arkansas’ December unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, down one-tenth of a percent from November. One year ago, Arkansas’ jobless rate stood at 7.1 percent in December. The U.S. unemployment rate for December fell three-tenths of a percent to 6.7 percent. In the non-farm payroll jobs report, seven sectors reported job gains, while seven sectors posted losses during the past 12 months. The highest growth sector was the trade, transportation and utilities industries with 4,900 new jobs added in the past year.
NW Arkansas fourth in nation in job growth; Jonesboro 11th
The Northwest Arkansas metropolitan statistical area ranked fourth in non-farm job growth in the nation in 2013, according to preliminary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday. Or 11th, depending on how you look at it.
The Northwest Arkansas region averaged 9,580 more jobs in a typical month in 2013 over the same month in 2012, a “moving average” growth rate of 4.56 percent. However, Northwest Arkansas ranked 11th with its year-end ranking comparing the end of December 2013 with the end of December 2012. The region grew by 8,900 jobs over that time period.
Jonesboro’s moving average ranked 11th in the country with a 3.69 percent growth rate after adding an average of about 1,880 jobs. Jonesboro ranked 14th comparing December 2013 to December 2012.