Alexander & Baldwin reported Wednesday it sustained a $70 million loss last year — its biggest in more than 30 years — as a result of restructuring.
The loss was not in cash, but reflected A&B slashing the value of two operations — a Kauai resort housing development project and a road paving and rock quarry subsidiary.
The Kauai project, Kukui’ula, which is slated for 1,200 homes on 1,010 acres, was devalued by $187 million because A&B expects to divest of it before completion and therefore had to assign a new value that was less than what it could have earned from long-term residential property sales. A&B began work on the project in 2006 with a partner and development will continue, the company said.
A&B also devalued its Grace Pacific paving and quarry business by $78 million because of its performance and outlook. A&B bought Grace in 2013 for $277 million.
The combined $265 million in write-downs more than offset positive contributions from other A&B operations that included selling about $380 million of real estate last year.
Property sales included 41,000 acres of former sugar cane plantation land on Maui for $262 million and $104 million from mainly residential real estate that included five condominiums at The Collection in Kakaako, 69 condos at Keala o Wailea on Maui, 91 condos at another Maui project called Kamalani, one lot in Kahala and 28 homes or house lots at Kukui’ula.
The biggest profit from land sale revenue was $162 million from the 41,000 acres, but Kukui’ula’s devaluation generated an overall $27 million operating loss for all A&B land development and sale operations.
In another segment of A&B’s business, the company generated $59 million in operating profit last year through tenant rental income primarily at Hawaii shopping centers, warehouses and office buildings.
Such commercial real estate leasing is where A&B has been concentrating its resources and investment in recent years, especially since the company converted from a traditional corporation to a real estate investment trust at the end of 2017. The transition, however, hasn’t been smooth.
A&B, which dates back to 1870 and once owned Matson, had only two unprofitable years since the mid-1980s. A&B could not say Wednesday whether last year’s loss was the biggest in its 149-year history.
In 2016 A&B lost $8 million because of expenses connected to the closure of Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation. In 2017 it produced a $231 million profit that was driven by a $225 million tax benefit related to becoming a REIT.
Most of last year’s $70 million loss was incurred in the fourth quarter that erased prior-quarter profits. A&B said it lost $136 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a $212 million profit driven by the REIT-related tax benefit in the same quarter a year earlier.
“As I’ve said before, there will be some pain along the way in transitioning to become a pure commercial REIT,” Chris Benjamin, A&B president and CEO, said in a conference call with stock analysts Wednesday. “But the benefits of focus will be worth it.”
Shares of A&B stock closed Wednesday at $24.65 before the earnings announcement. Shares in the prior 52 weeks have closed between $25.28 on July 11 and $17.78 on Dec. 20.