Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Norwegian Star changes Maui stop to Kahului

The Norwegian Star, the only round-the-islands cruise ship since American Classic Voyages stopped running in October, has decided to drop Lahaina and make its weekly Maui call at Kahului, at least until early May.

The 1,900-passenger ship will call at Kahului on Fridays through May 3, said Norwegian Cruise Line. The problem is that at Lahaina the ship has to anchor offshore and ferry its passengers to land on smaller boats, a time consuming effort and the same factor that led the line last month to drop Kona in favor of Hilo.

The cruise line said it will run a free shuttle service to Lahaina for any passengers who want to visit the historic town.

Hawaiian Natural Water parent's earnings rise

Amcon Distributing Co., which completed its acquisition of Hawaiian Natural Water Co. in December, yesterday reported that net income jumped 140 percent in the 2002 fiscal first quarter as sales more than doubled from a year earlier.

The Omaha-based distributor of consumer products had earnings of $390,642, or 14 cents a share, compared with $162,794, or 6 cents a share, in the period ended December 2001. Revenues soared to $210.15 million from $100.51 million in the year-ago quarter.

Amcon, which has reshuffled the management of Hawaiian Natural Water since the takeover, said that it expects the upgrading of its Big Island bottling-equipment facility will be completed in the fiscal third quarter that ends in June.

The company also said that it expects Hawaiian Natural Water to "continue to incur operating losses" until Amcon is able to expand its market for the Hawaiian Springs product.

Emmis sells 2 radio outlets in Denver for $135 million

NEW YORK >> Diversified media company Emmis Communications Corp. today agreed to sell two Denver radio stations for $135.5 million in a move to cut its weighty debt load and lower costs.

The Indianapolis-based Emmis, which operates radio, television and magazine groups, plans to sell KALC-FM to Entercom Communications Corp. for $88 million and KXPK-FM to Spanish-language media firm Entravision Communications Corp. for $47.5 million. Both transactions were expected to close by the end of May.

In Honolulu, Emmis owns both KHON TV and KGMB TV. It acquired the stations through the purchase of Iowa-based Lee Enterprises Inc. in 2000 and has obtained a series of waivers from the Federal Communications Commission allowing it to maintain ownership of both network-affiliated properties. The current waiver expires at the end of March.

Emmis Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Smulyan said in a statement that radio remained a "principal focus of growth" for the company, but after watching Entercom pay $180 million to Tribune Co. for three other Denver stations, he decided to take advantage of the market.

Emmis is struggling to reduce costs and pay down debt amid a difficult advertising climate. The company cut wages 10 percent across the board last November.

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