HC&S profits offset Matson, property losses

Alexander & Baldwin Inc.’s agricultural sector – led by Maui’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. – produced a “strong performance” in 2011 while losses related to Matson Navigation Co. and the real estate sales division put a drag on company profits.

In reporting its 2011 and fourth-quarter financial results Monday, the Honolulu-based company said it logged a net income of $34.2 million, or 81 cents a share, for the year, down 63 percent from the $92.1 million, or $2.22 a share, in 2010 and down nearly 75 percent from the $132 million, or $3.19 a share, in 2008, as the Great Recession began roiling the national economy.

For the fourth quarter, A&B’s net income was only $1.6 million, or 4 cents a share, down from $20.2 million, or 48 cents a share, in the same quarter the previous year.

The company’s ocean transportation sector showed an operating profit of $74.1 million for the year, down from $118.7 million in 2010. This sector of the company suffered losses from the discontinuing of its second China-Long Beach service in the third quarter.

In addition, A&B said that the company continues to make progress on plans to separate its shipping and real estate/agricultural businesses in the second half of this year.

The agricultural sector, which includes HC&S and trucking and storage companies on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, showed an operating profit of $22.2 million in 2011, up 264 percent from $6.1 million in 2010. This is a big contrast from three years ago, when agriculture lost $27 million and the board of directors debated shutting down sugar operations.

Plantation railroads on East, South sides

Editor’s note: On Dec. 3, the Kaua‘i Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. Museum leaders have chosen 50 stories from exhibits, collections and the archives of the museum to share with the public. One story will run daily through Dec. 3.

LIHU‘E — For researching plantation history, the Gilmore Sugar Manuals, an annual report of U.S. sugar cane producers is invaluable. Published under various names, they reported statistics and interesting work done on individual plantations during the year. This is some interesting information collected from manuals from 1936 and 1948 when many plantations had begun to phase out rail.

Kilauea Sugar Plantation Co.

In 1936 the rail system was 11 miles of 24-gauge track, two 16-ton oil-fired Baldwin locomotives and 260 three-ton flare-door type cane cars which were discontinued in 1948.

Grove Farm Company, Ltd.

In 1936, harvesting transportation consisted of 13.5 miles of permanent 30-inch track and four miles of portable track. The cane cars used in harvesting belong to Lihu‘e Plantation where the cane was processed. In 1948, transportation equipment consisted of rail cars from Lihu‘e Plantation with trucks used to bring in harvested cane from isolated steep fields.

Drought, maintenance extend shutdown – The Maui News

Hookipa Maui Harvest <br />Click Picture for Larger Image
Hookipa Maui Harvest
Click for Larger Image
PUUNENE – Sugar prices are through the roof this year, but that will be of little help to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which will have its sugar output reduced by drought to an estimated 125,000 to 130,000 tons this year.

But even if HC&S had more to sell, it still wouldn’t benefit, because it sold its production on forward contracts at what now seem like low prices.

The Alexander & Baldwin subsidiary does not participate in the government loan price support program, which is irrelevant this year, since world and American prices are far higher than the 18 cents per pound support rate.

HC&S will soon complete its harvest and shut down the mill, but for much longer than the usual one or two months.