A&B’s cost to close plant is lower than expected
Winding down Hawaii’s last sugar plantation cost Alexander & Baldwin Inc. less in the second quarter than previously expected, but still produced a second consecutive quarterly financial loss for the company.
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Winding down Hawaii’s last sugar plantation cost Alexander &Baldwin Inc. less in the second quarter than previously expected, but still produced a second consecutive quarterly financial loss for the company.
A&B announced Wednesday that it lost $600,000 in the April-June period, compared with a $10.1 million profit in the same quarter last year.
The recent loss followed a $7 million loss in the first quarter as A&B works to close Hawaiian Commercial &Sugar Co. on Maui by the end of the year.
A&B said its costs to shut down the plantation were lower in the second quarter than expected, but the expense was still quite big.
Sugar-cessation-related expenses totaled $18.5 million in the quarter. That contributed to a $19.9 million operating loss for A&B’s agribusiness division that also includes land leased to a coffee plantation on Kauai. After taxes, the agribusiness operating loss was $10.5 million.
Expenses included the cost to clear land and prepare fields for future use. The company also anticipates losses on selling equipment after the final harvest, which is about halfway done.
Other major lines of business at Honolulu-based A&B — commercial real estate leasing, property sales and road paving — offset nearly all of the agribusiness losses, though operating profits were weaker for the latter two categories in the second quarter compared with the same quarter last year.
Commercial real estate leasing, which includes running several shopping centers owned by A&B, generated a $14.8 million operating profit in the second quarter. That was up from a $13.9 million operating profit a year earlier.
A&B said it is expanding in this area by converting a former Macy’s store in Kailua into a complex of several retail stores and restaurants at a cost of $21 million. The company expects that will produce future financial gains. The complex being renamed Lau Hala Shops is expected to open in early 2018.
Property sales produced a $5 million operating profit, which was down sharply from a $14.3 million operating profit a year earlier. A&B said it sold three mainland office buildings and five residential properties at resorts on Kauai and Hawaii island in the recent quarter compared with three residential properties on Kahala Avenue and a 2.4-acre commercial property on Maui a year earlier.
Chris Benjamin, A&B president and CEO, told stock market analysts on a conference call that real estate sales have been a little slow but will jump in the fourth quarter.
“Real estate sales are a bit episodic,” he said. “They go up and down, and it has been a little bit of a lull this year. But I do think, as I said, that we are well-positioned going forward.”
One big sale event expected in the fourth quarter is closing sales at The Collection, a condominium high-rise in Kakaako nearing completion. “That’s going to be a significant driver of performance in the fourth quarter,” Benjamin said.
In the second quarter, another division of A&B called Grace Pacific, which includes rock quarry and road paving operations, generated a $4.9 million operating profit in the second quarter. That was down from $7 million a year earlier. A&B said the decline was due to bad weather that delayed paving work.
A&B said it had 53 rainy days in the second quarter that curtailed paving work compared with 14 in the same quarter last year. The company said the value of paving work yet to be done is $267 million.
“There’s a big backlog of work to keep our crews busy and improve on results going forward,” Benjamin said.
Revenue for A&B in the second quarter totaled $102.7 million, which the company said was down from $153.7 million a year earlier because of lower property sales, paving work and asphalt prices.
According to a Bloomberg consensus, A&B net income later this year is projected to be a $6.1 million loss in the third quarter and an $18.6 million profit in the fourth quarter, producing a full-year loss of $3.2 million.
However, based on A&B achieving lower costs to exit the sugar business, these figures could be revised.
A&B said the lower sugar cessation costs in the second quarter should reduce the company’s full year costs, before tax impacts, by up to $20 million. Previously A&B estimated that these costs would total $90 million to $110 million, but has now lowered the range to $75 million to $90 million.
Shares of A&B stock, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $37.79 on Wednesday before the earnings announcement. Shares over the last 52 weeks have closed between $29.30 on Feb. 2 and $39.04 on June 8.