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A&B profit down sharply in third quarter

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 12:20 p.m. HST, Nov 7, 2013

Profit dropped sharply in the third quarter for local real estate firm Alexander & Baldwin Inc. largely due to unfavorable production and delivery issues with the company's Maui sugar farming subsidiary.

A&B reported today that income fell 67 percent to $4.4 million in the July-September period from $13.4 million in the same period last year.

Operating profit rose for A&B's real estate leasing and sales divisions. But the company's agribusiness operations, primarily Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., suffered a decline with an operating profit of $2.2 million in the recent quarter compared with $9.1 million a year earlier.

A&B said the timing of sugar cargo ship voyages to the mainland meant that it had only one shipment in the recent quarter compared with two a year earlier, which effectively halved the amount of sugar sold.

HC&S also produced less sugar -- 64,000 tons in the recent quarter compared with 78,200 tons a year earlier -- because fewer acres were harvested.

Lower sugar prices along with lower sales margins on molasses and electricity produced in the sugar refining process also were factors in the reduced operating profit, the company said.

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