Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript — Seeking Alpha

The Last Sugar Mill in Hawaii
HC&S Puunene Maui
CLICK HERE for larger image
Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (ALEX)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

May 4, 2010 5:00 pm ET


Suzy Hollinger – Director, IR

Stan Kuriyama – President & CEO

Matt Cox – President, Matson Navigation Company, Inc.

Norb Buelsing – President, A&B Properties, Inc.

Chris Benjamin – SVP, CFO & Treasurer; General Manager, HC&S


William Horner – Stephens Incorporated

Sloan Bohlen – Goldman Sachs

Sheila McGrath – KBW

Brendan Maiorana – Wells Fargo

Tom Wilson – Wilson Capital Management

Tom Spiro – Spiro Capital Management



Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the first quarter Alexander & Baldwin earnings conference call. My name is O'Meara and I will be your operator for today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Later, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes.

I would now like to turn this conference over to your host for today’s call, Ms. Suzy Hollinger, Director of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Suzy Hollinger

Thank you, operator. Aloha and welcome to Alexander & Baldwin's first quarter 2010 earnings call. On the call with me today are Stan Kuriyama, A&B's President and CEO; Chris Benjamin, A&B's CFO and also General Manager of HC&S; Norb Buelsing, President of A&B Properties; and joining us from Matson's headquarters in Oakland is Matt Cox, President of Matson Navigation Company.

Before we commence, please note that statements in this call and presentation that set forth expectations or predictions are based on facts and situations that are known to us as of today, May 04, 2010. Actual results may differ materially due to risks and uncertainties such as those described on pages 17 through 26 of our 2009 Form 10-K and our other subsequent filings with the SEC. Statements in this call and presentation are not guarantees of future performance.

Slides from this presentation are available for download at our website You will see an icon at the top of the website to direct you to the appropriate section for download.

This slide provides an agenda for our presentation, after which we will take your questions. We will start with Stan who will comment on the performance for the quarter.

Stan Kuriyama

Thank you, Suzy. I'm pleased to report that A&B posted a solid first quarter and a positive start to 2010. Net income was significantly higher in the first quarter at $17 million or $0.42 per share compared to earnings in the first quarter of 2009 of $3 million or $0.07 a share.

As you'll note from this chart, operating results for all segments improved in the first quarter of 2010 with the exception of real estate leasing. Consolidated operating profit was $42 million in the quarter compared to $17 million a year ago. However, our first quarter '09 operating profit was impacted by a $6 million workforce reduction charge that did not recur in the first quarter of 2010.

Let me now brief you on the quarter highlights from each of our business units. In ocean transportation, our China service is benefitting from the recovery in both volume and rates. Volumes in particular were significantly higher than a year ago and rates are higher on a sequential basis. Matt will have more details for you later in the presentation.

Hawaii container volumes and rates were relatively flat in the quarter compared to last year. While we believe that material increases in volumes and rates are unlikely for the rest of the year, we are pleased that the Hawaii trade seems to have bottomed. Guam's performance was also stable for the quarter. Overall, operating profits in our ocean transportation business continue to benefit from the vessel deployment changes, workforce reduction, and other cost cutting and operating efficiencies implemented over the past two years.

First quarter operating results for MIL benefitted from a large movement for the Department of Defense, as well as from prior year's cost cutting measures. Some stabilization in MIL's intermodal business also occurred in the quarter. In real estate, we continue to observe demand and favorable pricing for quality commercial properties as evidenced by our sales of Mililani Shopping Center in January. This sale drove quarter results for this segment, as well as for the overall company.

Leasing, however, was challenged by several factors; the downward reset of market rents, lower occupancies in our Mainland portfolio, and the time lag between sales and acquisitions of properties in our 1031 exchange program. Norbert would be addressing this further in our presentation.

Agribusiness results improved in the quarter with losses declining by $800,000. However, we didn’t plan on harvesting any sugar in the first quarter, meaningful performance comparisons can't be made until the second quarter. As Chris will describe later, we continue to expect significant improvement for the full year and we recently learned federal grant monies will be made available to help us accelerate our bioenergy research at HC&S.