Alexander & Baldwin to split into two separate companies

Alexander & Baldwin Inc. said today its board of directors has approved a plan to split the company into two separate companies, one focusing on real estate and agriculture and the other on shipping.

The two companies would be independent and publicly traded, the company said in a news release.

Under the plan, A&B shareholders will own one share of both A&B and Matson stock for each share of company stock owned. The separation is expected to be completed in the second half of 2012.

The announcement was made after the market closed. A&B’s shares rose $1.50 to $39.56 in after hours trading.

“Over the past decade, Alexander & Baldwin’s board of directors and management have periodically conducted strategic reviews, including an evaluation of the merits of separating into two companies,” said Walter Dods, A&B’s chairman. “After thorough evaluation, we have concluded that the increased size, capabilities and financial strength of both our land and transportation businesses now enable these operations to independently execute their strategies to maximize shareholder value.”

Honolulu-based A&B has grown substantially over the past decade. Its commercial real estate portfolio has increased by almost 50 percent to its present size of 7.9 million square feet, comprising 44 properties in Hawaii and eight mainland states. The portfolio of commercial properties generates a significant and stable source of cash flow for the company, and is an important source of capital for A&B’s real estate investment and development activity.

A&B’s agribusiness sector recovers but shipping down – Mauinews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News

Although its agribusiness sector continued its recovery in the first quarter, Alexander & Baldwin’s usual profit center, Matson Navigation Co., lost money, and the company reported a thin profit of $5.2 million, or 12 cents per share, Tuesday.

President Stanley Kuriyama said Matson couldn’t adjust its fuel surcharges fast enough to keep up with soaring oil prices.

Agribusiness, primarily Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., had an operating profit of $2.6 million, compared with a loss of $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2010.

It is difficult to compare quarter-to-quarter results for HC&S, since in the first quarter of 2010 the Puunene mill shut down for an extended overhaul and harvesting did not begin until the second quarter. But Kuriyama pointed out that the company’s agriculture operation has now experienced four straight quarters of profitability, following years of serious losses.

It is also difficult to compare quarter-to-quarter changes at Matson, because it signed a significant connecting carrier agreement with a large international carrier and opened a second service to China. Both increased business, but the startup costs for the second “string” of voyages to China resulted in a loss.

Hawaii container traffic was up to 34,000, from 31,400 the year before, partly indicating expansion in the island economy.

Stowaways found in largest Christmas tree shipment of the year

SAND ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii’s largest shipment of Christmas trees from the mainland is here.

On Sunday morning, inspectors combed through them and they found some creatures who came along for the joy ride.

A salamander, some tree frogs, and a cricket are among the hitchhikers in this season’s shipment of Christmas trees.

But after all the shaking, and searching for invasive species at Matson’s Sand island terminal, it was a slimy guy who triggered a red flag.

“We found several slugs and we’re concerned about it being a problem here to our agriculture industry, environment and also public health and safety,” said Glenn Sakamoto, Plant Quarantine Inspector with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

The state says the slug was found in 11 of the 62 containers.

The vendor has a choice. It can either treat the trees or send them back to the mainland.

This is the third shipment in three weeks.

In all, there are roughly 200 containers filled with more than 80,000 Christmas trees.

The state says that’s more than last year.

That’s because there was a shortage of trees, and people started air freighting them.

The state anticipates a bigger supply this year.

As for the little buggers, inspectors say if they have kamaaina family members, they get to stay in Hawaii.