Business News Briefs — September unemployment falls in Arkansas


Arkansas’ unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent in September to 7.1 percent as the civilian labor force and number of unemployed fell.

The 7.1 percent number is a full percentage point below September 2011 and moves the state closer to ending its 44-month streak of unemployment hovering above 7 percent.

In Arkansas, the civilian labor force shrunk by 2,700 from August to September, but it has actually grown by 7,300 workers since September of last year.

The September U.S. unemployment rate slid to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent in August and 9.0 percent in September 2011.

Peco Foods adding 300 jobs in Independence County

Peco Foods announced it will expand a feed mill in Newark and a processing plant in Batesville. The expansions will add 300 jobs to the two plants, bringing total employment in Independence County to 866. In addition, the company plans to invest $13.8 million in the two facilities.

Peco Foods is the eighth largest poultry processor in the U.S., processing more than 4.2 million birds and 22 million pounds of ready-to-cook poultry each week, according to the company.

Simmons First net income slips

Simmons First National Corp. posted net income of $6.8 million, down from $7.3 million one year ago. Net income for the nine months ended Sept. 30 was $19.7 million, slightly higher than the $19.1 million posted in the comparable period for 2011.

Simmons said some of the quarter’s small decline could be attributed to lower non-interest income, such as fees from transactions, accounts and overdraft charges.

In mid-September, Simmons First made its third acquisition in the Missouri market. The Pine Bluff-based bank acquired Truman Bank of St. Louis through a loss-share agreement with the FDIC. Last week, it added another Missouri bank, Excel Bank of Sedalia, to its portfolio. Bank officials said the company’s capital position will allow it to consider additional acquisition opportunities.

Deltic Timber sees quarterly profits quadruple

Timber and real estate firm Deltic Timber Corp. saw its third-quarter profits more than quadruple from one year ago as rising sales from its mill segment boosted earnings.

The El Dorado-based company reported quarterly net income of $3.2 million on revenue of $36.499 million. One year ago, Deltic posted a profit of $720,000 on sales of $31.371 million.

Year-to-date, Deltic’s net income is $6.831 million compared to $2.867 million in last year’s comparable nine-month reporting period. Revenues are up 12 percent from a year ago.

P.A.M. Transportation turns profitable third quarter

P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. posted third-quarter net income of $880,907 compared to a net loss of $1.7 million one year ago. The Tontitown-based trucking firm reported quarterly income of $94.55 million, up 6.3 percent from the previous year.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2012, P.A.M. showed a profit of $2.49 million on revenue of $284.86 million.

“P.A.M. extended the trend of year over year earnings growth during the third quarter 2012, despite significant hurdles faced during the quarter. This quarter completes four consecutive quarters of positive earnings, with each month of 2012 contributing both operating and net income,” said P.A.M. President Daniel Cushman.

Arkansas Best appoints new board member

Arkansas Best Corp. announced that Janice Stipp, current executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Tecumseh Products Co., has been appointed to the Arkansas Best Corp. Board of Directors.

Stipp, 53, began her current position with Tecumseh, a global manufacturer of compressors and related products, in October 2011. She has also held positions at truck manufacturer Revstone Industries, Acument Global Technologies Corp., and General Motors Co.

One Bank & Trust names Jerry Pavlas CEO after fed orders

One Bank & Trust was ordered by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to remove its CEO and President Layton Stuart immediately. On Thursday, the Little Rock-based bank, which has been at the center of several regulatory actions, named Gerald F. “Jerry” Pavlas as the president, CEO and director.

Stuart’s dismissal from One Bank also included other directives from the OCC, including reclassifying the bank’s capital category from “adequately capitalized” to “undercapitalized.” It also called for a forensic auditor to review bank documents, books and records dating back to Jan. 1, 2009.

Lower revenue, higher profits for Acxiom

Lower revenue, but greater profits — that’s the bottom line for Acxiom’s second quarter. The Little Rock-based data marketer posted quarterly net income of $16.37 million, up 26 percent from a year ago, on revenue of $277.47 million, down 3.1 percent. Acxiom said its marketing and data services segment revenue was roughly flat, although U.S. revenue in that segment did see a slight increase. IT infrastructure management segment revenue decreased 5 percent during the quarter.

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Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his Web site address is www.talkbusiness.net.