comscore Matson spinoff drops A&B profits | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Matson spinoff drops A&B profits

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    An array of photovoltaic panels, below, on 20 acres in Port Allen on Kauai is under construction by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. The company plans to begin selling electricity from the project later this year.

Breaking up can be hard to do, but it was also expensive for Alexander & Baldwin Inc. and Matson Navigation Co.

A&B incurred about $14 million in expenses and land value reduction from spinning off former subsidiary Matson in June, and those costs sapped profits of A&B in the second quarter.

The Honolulu-based real estate and agribusiness firm reported a net loss of $4.4 million in the April-June period mostly tied to the separation, A&B announced Wednesday.

The loss compared with a $12.3 million profit in last year’s second quarter excluding Matson operations.

A&B said the loss was created by $4.4 million in expenses for the spinoff and a $9.8 million reduction in the value of two California development properties reassessed as part of the separation. Excluding those two items, A&B said it earned $5.5 million in the quarter.


$4.4 million


$2.5 million

A&B revenue was little changed at $72.4 million in the second quarter from $73.2 million in the same quarter last year.

Stan Kuriyama, A&B’s chairman and CEO, told stock analysts in a conference call that the company has a promising pipeline of real estate development projects that are well-positioned to capitalize on a growing Hawaii economy, though earnings will be modest until there is a full recovery in the real estate market.

"We remain very excited about our company’s prospects," he said on the call. "Separation (from Matson) was a historic event, and we’re all looking forward to the new road that lies ahead."

All but about $1.2 million in separation expenses were recognized in the second quarter, so large negative impacts on future A&B earnings related to the Matson spinoff aren’t expected.

Outside of separation issues, operating profit from two of three remaining A&B divisions were lower in the second quarter, which also contributed to the reduction in earnings.

Real estate development and sales produced a $100,000 operating loss in the quarter, compared with a $10.6 million operating profit a year earlier.

A&B said it sold more real estate during last year’s second quarter, including a Texas shopping center and four Hawaii properties that generated $28 million in revenue. In the recent quarter, A&B sold four acres of Maui land to Costco for about $7 million, but other expenses and losses erased the profit from the sale. Costco used the land for a gas station, which it opened in July next to its warehouse store in Kahului.

Operating profit from real estate leasing improved slightly to $10.5 million in the second quarter from $10.4 million a year earlier.

In A&B’s agribusiness division, which largely comprises Maui sugar plantation Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., operating profit slipped to $7 million in the second quarter from $8.5 million a year earlier. A&B said the decline was primarily due to lower sugar prices in the recent quarter.

Matson often produced strong operating profit that could bolster A&B earnings or offset drops in real estate and agribusiness results. But Kuriyama said A&B without Matson is doing fine.

"Notwithstanding the focus on separation and the resultant impact on financial results, our operations performed well in the quarter," he said in a statement.

Ian Zaffino, a stock analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York, said A&B had a solid quarter in his view. "(The) company is doing very well as an independent," he said.

A&B touted several accomplishments that it expects will contribute positively to future quarterly results, including a planned condominium tower in Kakaako, the sale of some Maui farmland, subdivision approval for a Maui industrial park expansion and construction of a photovoltaic facility on Kauai.

The 340-unit condo tower dubbed Waihonua has secured binding sales contracts on 227 units for a collective $161 million, or $709,251 on average, A&B said. The company said it is finalizing a $120 million construction loan that should allow construction to begin as early as next month.

The Maui farmland covering 286 acres was sold last month for $8.3 million. Also on Maui, A&B received approval in June to create 65 industrial lots as part of an expansion of Maui Business Park.

On Kauai, A&B said it began building a 20-acre solar facility in Port Allen to generate electricity that will be sold to the local utility. The facility is projected to go into service by the end of the year.

Shares of A&B stock closed at $32.05 on Wednesday before earnings were reported. That was up 1 cent from Tuesday and is up by almost $7 from $25.30 on July 2 when stock in A&B without Matson began trading.

Matson is scheduled to release its second-quarter earnings report today.

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