By RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

Acxiom Corporation announced to its employees Wednesday it is cutting salaries and benefits in an effort to avoid layoffs.

The announcement came alongside an earnings expectation release that forecasted a first quarter shortfall of 17 to 21 percent compared to the same quarter one year ago.

Company spokesman Scott Maple said employees making less than $35,000 per year will not receive a pay cut. Those earning more than $35,000 up to $100,000 will receive a 3 percent pay cut, he said. Those earning more than $100,000 up to $200,000 are taking a 5 percent cut. Employees in the more than $200,000 up to $500,000 tier will receive a 7.5 percent cut. Those making more than $500,000, which includes only CEO John Meyer and COO John Adams, are taking a 10 percent pay cut, Maple said.

Additionally, Acxiom announced it will no longer provide a company match to employee 401K plans. Associates may continue to contribute to their plans as usual, Maple said. Acxiom is also suspending the company match for a similar plan for executives, the Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.

Maple added, "We have an employee stock purchase plan that provides a means for employees to purchase stock at a discount, and we will not be providing that discount going forward."

The salary cuts and changes in benefits were announced late Wednesday afternoon, Maple said. Pay cuts take effect July 1. Associates will see the change on their July 15 check, he said.

"As we reported yesterday, our earnings per share and revenue for the quarter were going to be considerably lower than they were last year, so we're just in a position of facing a soft economy. So until we see things are picking up, we're going to have to buckle down just like other companies are doing. But we didn't want to do so and have any kind of an across-the-board workforce reduction. We wanted to retain the strength of our workforce, and this is the way we did that, through the pay cuts."

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)