Alexander & Baldwin Inc. tripled its third-quarter profit with greatly improved performances from its ocean transportation service in China and sugar business on Maui.
The Honolulu-based company said yesterday it earned a profit of $25.7 million, or 62 cents a share, compared with $8.5 million, or 21 cents a share, in the same period last year.
Revenue rose 20 percent to $444 million in the quarter from $371 million a year earlier.
The big profit gain largely was from A&B’s ocean cargo subsidiary, Matson Navigation Co., which posted a 67 percent rise in operating profit to $40.4 million from $24.2 million a year earlier.
"Transportation drove the quarter, and within that it was mostly about China," said George Pickral, an analyst with financial services firm Stephens Inc. in Virginia who tracks A&B.
A&B said Matson’s performance was principally driven by higher volume and yields in its China service, which it expanded in mid-September.
"Our China-Long Beach (Calif.) service performed extremely well," Stan Kuriyama, A&B president and chief executive officer, said in a conference call with stock analysts.
Matson’s business in Hawaii was down a bit, as container volume decreased 2 percent and automobile volume declined 10 percent.
A&B said the slight decline in container shipping was primarily due to reduced agriculture exports. Matson container service to Guam was unchanged.
Besides Matson’s China service, the other main influence on A&B’s year-over-year profit surge was subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which benefited from higher sugar prices and production.
HC&S, along with Kauai Coffee Co., delivered an $800,000 operating profit for A&B, which represents a nearly $15 million turnaround from a 2009 third-quarter operating loss of $13.8 million.
Operating profits from real estate operations — often a driver of net income gains for A&B — were lower.
Operating profit for real estate leasing was down 9 percent to $9.3 million from $10.2 million a year earlier. The change was largely influenced by A&B selling some commercial buildings and buying others.
Operating profit from real estate sales fell 17 percent to $2.9 million from $3.5 million a year earlier. There were no large transactions in either period.
Kuriyama said that overall, A&B is pleased with third-quarter financial results that pushed net income for the first nine months of the year to $71.9 million and well beyond full-year 2009 net income of $44 million.
Shares of A&B stock closed yesterday down 6 cents at $35.06 before the earnings announcement.