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Dole buys new ships, suspends share buy-backs

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Dole Food Co. Inc. has bought three new refrigerated container ships for about $165 million, for U.S. West Coast operations and will suspend stock buy-backs.

The ships are being built to Dole’s specifications, will be more fuel-efficient and have nearly 57 percent greater capacity, and are to be delivered over time, beginning possibly in late 2015.

The ships currently in service will be nearly 27 years old at the time of replacement, said C. Michael Carter, president and chief operating officer.

Dole also announced the indefinite suspension of a previously announced $200 million share repurchase program. The company will instead funnel those resources toward the ship purchase.

The company also “is seeking to monetize its excess Hawaii land holdings,” by marketing roughly 20,600 acres on Oahu that are not currently in farming use, he said.

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