Why ArcBest Stock Crashed 23% on Friday

By Rich Smith Markets Fool.com

What happened

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Shares of trucker ArcBest (NASDAQ: ARCB) are plunging today, down 22.8% as of 2:30 p.m. EDT.

So what

Considering that it's earnings season on Wall Street, you might suspect that an earnings report had something to do with why ArcBest is sinking like a rock -- and you'd be right. ArcBest reported its fiscal Q1 2017 earnings results this morning, and these were some of the "ArcWorst" numbers we've seen in quite a while.

Regarding revenues, sales climbed a bit less than 5% year over year in Q1 -- not that they did the stock much good. Operating costs, you see, rose a bit more than 5%, with the result that ArcBest was entirely incapable of cutting the size of last year's Q1 loss. Instead, operating losses swelled 31% larger.

Even a sizable $5.2 million tax credit wasn't enough to stem the bleeding, and by the time ArcBest reached the bottom line, its net loss was $7.4 million, or $0.29 per diluted share -- 21% worse than last year.

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Free cash flow, by the way, was even worse. ArcBest burned only $1 million in cash in last year's first quarter. This quarter, cash burned 10 times as fast -- $10.5 million in negative free cash flow.

ArcBest shares are headed for the basement -- but it's no great headscratcher why. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

This is about the time in an earnings story when management is supposed to step in and tell folks that things aren't as bad as they seem and are bound to get better soon. But ArcBest didn't.

Instead, the best that CEO Judy R. McReynolds could muster were a few words about how "regardless of the environment, our entire team is singularly focused on delivering an excellent customer experience and broadening awareness of the full scope of solutions we provide." Maybe that will be enough to convince a few more customers to buy transportation services from ArcBest.

As for investors, though, they just aren't buying it.

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Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.