Maui Land & Pineapple reports loss of $70.6M


POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. said it would sell its Plantation Course in Kapalua, home to the prestigious PGA Tour's Mercedes-Benz Championship, for $50 million to reduce debt after reporting an unprecedented $70.6 million loss in the fourth-quarter.

The sale and earnings announcements yesterday came on the heels of corporate leadership changes and another round of job and wage cuts. In January, Robert Webber took charge of the company as former chairman, president and chief executive David Cole transitioned into the role of company director. In February, MLP eliminated 100 positions from its Kapalua resort and corporate offices and implemented a 10 percent wage reduction for its remaining work force. That was MLP's third mass layoff in less than two years as the company struggled to remain profitable in the wake of a slumping economy that has impacted all of its primary divisions.

“;Unfortunately, we did have layoffs and salary cuts based on the current environment and market demand, but we believe that we are positioned to ride out the recession,”; said Webber.

He is bullish on the sale of the Plantation Course to Hawaii-based TY Management Corp. Under terms of the sale, expected to close later this month, Kapalua Plantation Golf LLC, a subsidiary of MLP, will operate the scenic golf course under a renewable two-year lease.

“;We would not have entered into this transaction if the new owner did not share our commitment to provide the highest quality golf experience and to work closely with us to maintain a seamless and integrated resort experience for our guests and residents,”; Webber said.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company reported a loss of $8.86 a share, compared with a loss of $4 million, or 51 cents a share, during the fourth quarter of 2007. Lower real estate sales and the cessation of its solid-packed pineapple products in part caused the company's revenue to fall 35 percent to $16.8 million from $25.9 million.

For the year, MLP reported a net loss of $79.4 million, or $9.98 a share, compared to a net gain of $8 million or $1.02 a share in 2007. Revenue fell 49 percent to $78.8 million from $154.1 million.

Still, Webber said that MLP basically broke even for the year after factoring out some $79.5 million in write-offs related to its real estate holdings.

“;We have re-evaluated the asset values based on current circumstances and have made sure that the business is properly scaled to survive,”; Webber said

The loss for the fourth quarter reflects a $45.3 million impairment charge for the perceived decrease in value of the company's investment holdings, $10.6 million in deferred development costs that the company does not expect to recoup and a net loss of $23.6 million against the company's deferred tax assets, he said.

It was a rough year for MLP as rising unemployment, the global financial crisis, the mortgage crisis, the credit crunch and other external factors resulted in significant losses for Hawaii's investment, real estate and tourism sectors, Webber said.

MLP saw its residential real estate sales sharply decline from roughly $70 million per year in 2006 and 2007 to about $4 million in 2008, he said.

“;You can do the math. Whenever you have that kind of drop-off, it's going to create a significant business hole,”; Webber said.

Despite the dismal fourth quarter, Webber said there are a few potentially bright spots for MLP going forward, he said.

“;Our resort is doing better than we forecast,”; he said. “;There is a lot going on at Kapalua and it is attracting new visitors. I'm bullish on us for the long term. When the market recovers, we will be poised to benefit.”;

Likewise, fractional ownership sales have increased significantly in January and February, Webber said.

“;We had 10 fractional sales in January and again in February and the price points are holding,”; he said. “;That's a very positive sign, and we think that people will continue to realize the value of this product, especially with the closure of some other luxury oceanfront condominium projects.”;