Thursday, April 15, 1999

Matson helps
A&B boost earnings

A '98 charge resulted in the net
doubling, but the parent company's
CEO says he's dissatisfied

By Russ Lynch


Alexander & Baldwin Inc. today reported a first-quarter net profit of $15.8 million, or 36 cents a share, up 97.5 percent from a net of $8 million, or 18 cents a share in the first quarter of 1998.

Info Box The actual earnings increase was not as dramatic as that because last year's results had included a one-time charge, noncash of $5.8 million for an accounting change. Without that special charge, A&B's first-quarter 1998 net would have been up 14.5 percent at $13.8 million, or 31 cents a share,

The overall performance improvement was helped by A&B's biggest subsidiary, Matson Navigation Co., which reported a $1 million increase in its operating profit, despite a $9.6 million dip in revenues.

Nevertheless, W. Allen Doane, A&B's president and chief executive, called the Honolulu-based parent company's overall results less than satisfactory. "Although there is little appreciable improvement in the economic conditions in Hawaii, none was expected in the short term," Doane said. "Matson continues its work to reduce its cost structure to a level consistent with lower Hawaii freight volume," he said.

A&B's total revenues for the latest quarter were $197.4 million, down 32.3 percent from $291.4 million in the 1998 quarter. Most of the revenue dip came because of last year's recapitalization and partial sell-off of the California & Hawaiian Sugar Co. refinery business on the mainland. That brought the quarter's food products revenues down to $8 million, from $94.9 million in the 1998 quarter. The operating profit from food products fell by 50 percent to $1.5 million from $3 million. Matson had first-quarter revenues of $169.2 million, down from $178.8 million, and an operating profit of $18.3 million, up from $17.4 million.

Property leasing and sales also were up and A&B's total operating profit for the first quarter was up 6 percent.

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