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Alexander & Baldwin sees lower annual financial loss

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    A&B logo

Hawaii’s second-largest retail property owner suffered a second consecutive annual financial loss in 2019, but finished the year with a profitable fourth quarter.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. announced Wednesday that it lost $38.4 million last year, which was an improvement from a $69.8 million loss the year before.

The Honolulu-based real estate investment trust also reported a $5 million profit in the fourth quarter, a turnaround from a $135.8 million loss in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue for all of 2019 declined 32% to $435.2 million from $644.4 million a year earlier. In the fourth quarter, A&B revenue fell 64% to $107.6 million from $299.6 million in the same period a year earlier.

A&B’s core business, owning commercial property in Hawaii leased to tenants, showed improved results with an operating profit of $66.2 million in 2019, up from $58.5 million in 2018. In the fourth quarter, this operating profit was $15.6 million, up from $13.5 million a year earlier.

The company also reported better results from real estate development project sales that generated an operating profit of 20.8 million in 2019, compared with a $26.7 million operating loss in 2018. In the fourth quarter, this business generated a $4.9 million operating profit compared with a $36 million operating loss a year earlier.

Sales last year included 42 acres at Wailea Resort on Maui, 44 condominiums on Maui, five residential lots on Kahala Avenue, nine acres at Maui Business Park and 30 residential units at a project on Kauai called Kukui‘ula.

Kukui‘ula has been a difficult project for A&B, which devalued its joint-venture interest in the endeavor last year. That move hurt A&B’s bottom line in the form of a noncash loss.

Troubles for A&B last year also stemmed from road paving and materials subsidiary Grace Pacific, which produced operating losses and a valuation reduction.

A&B said challenges for Grace showed signs of subsiding in the fourth quarter as a result of cost-reduction and operational improvement initiatives that helped trim Grace’s operating loss to $2.5 million in the fourth quarter from $80.4 million a year earlier. A&B also said it continues to evaluate strategic options for Grace, including a sale.

Annual losses have been uncommon for A&B in recent decades. The 150-year-old company with a history in sugar cane farming and past ownership of ocean cargo transportation firm Matson Inc. has had only three unprofitable years since the mid-1980s. Besides the past two years, the other loss during this period was 2016 when A&B lost $8 million because of expenses connected to the closure of Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui.

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