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Maui Land & Pineapple rides golf course sale to profitability

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Maui Land & Pineapple Co. posted its third straight quarterly profit yesterday, but continued to rely on measures outside its normal business to muster the gain.

The Kahului-based company earned $12.4 million for the first three months of the year, compared with a $2.7 million loss in the same period last year.

The first-quarter profit was primarly produced from the delayed recognition of proceeds from selling Kapalua Bay Golf Course last year. The golf course sale produced a $15.1 million gain in the first quarter.

Other factors benefiting first-quarter net income was $1.5 million from another real estate sale and $3.3 million from a settlement of post-retirement insurance plans.

Excluding the three extraordinary items, Maui Land had a $2.3 million loss from continuing core operations running Kapalua Resort and developing and selling real estate around the West Maui resort.

Revenue from continuing operations in the first quarter totaled $6.4 million, down from $7.6 million a year earlier.

Maui Land, which quit growing pineapple in 2009, has been trying to restructure its business after amassing near-crippling losses two years ago tied to farming and real estate development investments.

"MLP’s first-quarter results reflect continued progress as we work through the transition of our operations and focus our efforts on managing and developing our land holdings here on Maui," Tim Esaki, the company’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Maui Land resorted to one-time gains in each of the previous two quarters to produce profits. In the fourth quarter, the company earned $12 million predominantly by cutting health and life insurance plans for retirees. In the third quarter, Maui Land earned $20 million largely by recognizing a deferred gain from selling the Kapalua Plantation Golf Course in 2009.

The three consecutive quarterly profits followed eight straight quarters of losses totaling roughly $210 million.

Maui Land released its first-quarter earnings yesterday after the stock market closed. Shares of Maui Land closed yesterday at $5.05, down 8 cents from Tuesday. Shares over the past 52 weeks have traded as high as $7.40 on Feb. 11 and as low as $3.33 on July 12.

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