Feb. 21--Flipping houses isn't a typical line of business for local property development and agriculture firm Alexander &Baldwin Inc. But flipping a lot of residential real estate on Kahala Avenue recently was a major force behind higher A&Bprofit in the fourth quarter and all of last year.
Honolulu-based A&B announced Thursday that its income in the last three months of 2013 more than doubled to $22.5 million from $8.7 million in the same quarter the year before.
Fourth-quarter profit represented the biggest piece of full-year profit for A&B, which earned $36.9 million in 2013 compared with $20.5 million in 2012.
A&B's fourth-quarter profit was largely driven by gains on selling eight Kahala Avenue properties for $52.9 million within three months of acquiring 27 homes and lots on the tony Honolulu street from Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto.
"We've been very pleased with the initial results,"Stan Kuriyama, CEO of A&B, said of the Kahala sales on a conference call with stock market analysts.
A&B paid $98 million for the 27 Kahala properties and four other parcels in Windward Oahu and on Maui in September after Kawamoto got into legal trouble in Japan over alleged tax evasion. Kawamoto paid about $177 million for his Kahala home collection over several years and had demolished or degraded many homes.
In addition to A&B's eight Kahala property sales in the fourth quarter, one sale closed this year and one is in escrow. The strong demand led A&B to buy three leftover Kawamoto properties for $30 million in late December. These three properties, including two large oceanfront lots, were initially withheld by Kawamoto, A&B said.
Total A&B operating profit from real estate sales in the fourth quarter was $38.1 million, which included the Kahala results and gains from sales of a 24-acre retail parcel and seven commercial properties on the mainland. In the 2012 fourth quarter, A&B's real estate operating profit was $1.3 million.
Other areas of business for A&B produced a less positive impact on income.
In A&B's portfolio of commercial real estate, operating profit from leasing totaled $10.7 million in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent from $10.2 million a year earlier.
A new division that includes local asphalt contractor Grace Pacific, which A&B bought in October, generated a $5.7 million operating profit, though that was reduced to $2.9 million because of an adjustment to the purchase price for Grace.
For A&B's agribusiness division, which is led by Maui sugar plantation Hawaiian Commercial &Sugar Co., there was a $3.6 million operating loss in the fourth quarter compared with a $1.2 million operating profit a year earlier.
A&B said the loss was primarily due to lower sugar prices that required the company to reduce the value of its raw sugar inventory.
A&Bsaid it expects further operating losses from agribusiness this year totaling $6 million to $9 million. The company also expects continued gains from real estate sales, including more from the Kahala portfolio and vacation homes it is developing at neighbor island resorts.
Shares of A&B stock closed at $38.58 on Thursday before the earnings report was released. That price is between 52-week low and high marks of $32.89 in May and $45.92 in July.
(c)2014 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at www.staradvertiser.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services