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Matson dragged down A&B profit in third quarter

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Losses from a pullback in the China shipping trade hurt profits for Alexander & Baldwin Inc. in the third quarter.

The Honolulu-based company today said net profit for the July-September period fell 66 percent to $8.7 million from $25.7 million in the same period last year.

A&B said its agricultural business division is performing well, and real estate operations were bolstered by the sale of an industrial property on Maui. But expenses and losses from ocean cargo transportation between China and California at subsidiary Matson Navigation Co. reduced overall earnings.

Matson launched its China cargo run in 2006, and doubled service on the route in September 2010. But falling demand from shippers and an oversupply in capacity led Matson to cut its China service by half in August. A&B said it incurred a $28.5 million pre-tax loss from the cutback in the third quarter.

A&B said Matson’s remaining China cargo service is profitable.

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