Maui Land & Pine’s comeback efforts pay off
For the past seven years, Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has sold assets and cut liabilities in an effort to reverse huge 2008 and 2009 losses tied to a sour real estate development project and getting out of pineapple farming.
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For the past seven years, Maui Land &Pineapple Co. has sold assets and cut liabilities in an effort to reverse huge 2008 and 2009 losses tied to a sour real estate development project and getting out of pineapple farming.
Now investors in the company’s stock seem to be rewarding that effort.
Shares of Maui Land stock have been surging over the past two months following a long slog after tumbling sharply in 2008.
On Tuesday, shares closed at $13.15 to mark an eight-year high and an
83 percent gain from $7.20 at the end of last year.
Tim Esaki, Maui Land’s chief financial officer, said the company doesn’t comment on trading activity in its publicly traded stock. But some investors clearly see positive signs in the turnaround effort.
Maui Land doesn’t typically say much in its initial announcements about quarterly or annual financial results. In a Feb. 22 news release announcing income for last year, the company provided four paragraphs that described its performance with relevant numbers, offered a statement from CEO Warren Haruki and explained how selling a small retail center was the main contributor to its biggest profit in six years.
“We are pleased with the many significant accomplishments over the past several years in strengthening our company’s financial condition and refocusing our business,” Haruki said in the statement. “In addition, we are very appreciative of the continued support of our shareholders, creditors and the community as we further our efforts in pivoting MLP for sustained growth.”
More details, however, were released in a 40-page annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Feb. 24, after which most of the run-up in Maui Land’s stock price took place.
In that report, the company disclosed that it is nearly debt-free; that it paid 325 retirees a lump sum to replace future pension obligations; and that it expects to sell three more major real estate assets.
Perhaps most significant is the debt picture.
Maui Land said it reduced its long-term debt to $7 million at the end of last year. That was down from $41 million the year before and
$137 million in 2008. Until
recently, almost all Maui
Land assets — mainly
23,000 acres of land — had been pledged as collateral for debt, which restricted the company’s ability to borrow money to finance real estate development work that historically had been a core operation.
The company noted in its annual report that when it sold a 26,000-square-foot retail building at Kapalua Resort called Kapalua Village Center, it repaid loans and lifted restrictions on other real estate assets that previously had been pledged as security for a credit line.
Assets on which restrictions were lifted include 1,065 acres in Upcountry Maui and 46 acres in Kapalua intended for development of 188 homes and a town center with 61,000 square feet of commercial space.
Another 800 acres long planned for expanding Kapalua Resort with up to
639 homes and 27 holes of golf remains pledged as security for the credit facility.
Esaki said in an email that in addition to nearly eliminating debt, the company has exited unprofitable operations, streamlined corporate costs and achieved positive earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation expenses.
“Our results reflect the hard work of our team and the tremendous assistance and cooperation that MLP received from legislators, community members, our financial partners and business associates,” he said.
The low point for Maui Land financially was in 2009 when it suffered a $123 million loss after a $79 million loss in 2008 in the wake of a derailed development project called Kapalua Bay Residences and shutting down pineapple operations.
During the last seven years, Maui Land mainly sold real estate assets including two Kapalua golf courses and land slated for residential development but also terminated health and life insurance plans for retirees.
In its most recent annual report, the company said it expects to sell more real estate within a year — a 15-acre practice golf course,
630 acres of Upcountry farmland and 80 acres of Upcountry agricultural land with a wastewater treatment facility.
Esaki said the company has kept its greatest
assets — approximately
21,000 acres of land in and around Kapalua Resort and 2,000 acres in Upcountry.
It remains to be seen whether stock investors will continue to bid up Maui Land stock, which before the 2008 meltdown had sold for over $30 a share. According to the company, there were only 265 shareholders of record as of Feb. 16. And one shareholder, AOL’s billionaire founder Steve Case, owned about 63 percent of all shares.