Does Arkansas Best's Poor Quarter Have Larger Economic Implications?

Includes: ARCB, SPY
by: William Trent, CFA

Trucking company Arkansas Best (ABFS) reported earnings that were viewed as disappointing. Perhaps more worrisome for those expecting strong holiday sales (such as big-screen TV makers), they indicate that retailers have delayed ordering their holiday wares.

“In early October, ABF began to experience a slowdown in freight tonnage that appears to be related mostly to retail customers who have delayed the timing of normal holiday orders,” CEO Robert Davidson said.

An important question for the economy will be how long such delays persist. Motorola’s (MOT) sales warning shows that cell phone purchases may be tailing off. Ad spending (strongly tied to consumer spending) is weak almost across the board while the job market and housing market are clearly slowing.

ABFS 1-yr chart:

ABFS 1-yr chart