Friday, January 25, 2002

Events boost
A&B earnings

The company made $110 million
selling BancWest stock

By Russ Lynch

Alexander & Baldwin Inc., the last of Hawaii's historic "Big Five" companies still in the sugar business, posted a 220 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profit, mostly due to one-time events. Excluding those, the financials paint a picture of a tough quarter.

A&B A&B had a net of $46.4 million, or $1.15 a share, up from $14.5 million, or 36 cents a share, in the last quarter of 2000.

But the company's quarterly report yesterday said the profits for its biggest business, Matson Navigation Co., dropped because of the post-Sept. 11 decline in the Hawaii economy.

In the fourth quarter, A&B recorded an operating profit of $118.5 million, nearly four times the $32.2 million of the comparable period in 2000. But most of the jump was due to the investment side of the business, dominated by A&B's sale of its holdings in BancWest Corp.

The company's 3.4 million shares of BancWest, the parent of First Hawaiian Bank and Bank of the West, were sold for $118.5 million, creating a pre-tax gain of $110.3 million. Earlier in the year, A&B sold 749,000 shares of Pacific Century Financial Corp., parent of Bank of Hawaii, for $16.2 million. That produced a pre-tax gain of $15.1 million.

In its day-to-day operations, A&B posted a profit of $1.9 million from Matson in the latest quarter, a decline of more than 90 percent from an operating profit of $19.8 million in the final quarter of 2000.

Art "Fourth quarter 2001 container volume in the Hawaii service was 9 percent lower than in the 2000 fourth quarter, and its automobile volume was 22 percent lower," the company said.

The food products segment had an operating loss of $3.9 million in the latest quarter, a 15.2 percent decline from an operating profit of $4.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2000.

In the fourth quarter of 2001, total operating profit in the real estate business was $10.6 million, an increase of $3.6 million, or 51 percent, from $7.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2000.

A&B said its net income for all of 2001 was $110.6 million, or $2.73 a share. Full-year 2000 net income was $90.6 million, or $2.21 per share. Revenue in 2001 was $1.19 billion, up 11.2 percent from $1.07 billion in 2000.

The full-year result includes an after-tax charge of $9.2 million because of the company's decision to drop its Hawaiian DuraGreen business, which was set up to manufacture wallboard from sugar cane. Sales were disappointing and there were production problems, the company said.

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