Maui Land posts $20 million profit

The gain comes from recognizing deferred income from selling its Plantation Golf Course

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. booked its first quarterly profit in two years, during the three months ended Sept. 30, though the achievement was due to recognizing a previously deferred gain from the sale of a golf course last year.

The owner of Kapalua Resort earned $20 million in the third quarter, which contrasted with a $25.5 million net loss in the same period last year.

The gain ended a string of losses that amounted to $210 million over the previous eight quarters for the Lahaina-based company.

But the turnaround in earnings was the result of Maui Land booking a $25.7 million gain on the March 2009 sale of its Plantation Golf Course for $50 million.

Fundamental operations — running Kapalua Resort and developing and selling real estate around the West Maui resort — continued to be a drag on earnings.

Tim Esaki, Maui Land’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that the company continues to make progress streamlining operations and strengthening its financial position.

“While we still need to work through a number of challenges, we have a sound business plan and a solid team that is focused on building shareholder value,” he said.

Maui Land’s net income equaled $1.35 per share. Share prices closed yesterday at $4.46, down 6 cents from Friday’s close, on the New York Stock Exchange before the earnings announcement. Over the last 52 weeks, shares of Maui Land stock have traded as low as $2.35 in January and as high as $7.65 in March.

Operating revenue for Maui Land totaled $8.2 million in the third quarter, down from $20.1 million a year earlier. The weaker revenue was mostly the result of fewer real estate sales, the company said. The absence of revenue from two resort assets that Maui Land leased to third parties last December also contributed to the revenue decline.

Excluding the contribution from the golf course sale, Maui Land’s resort division had an operating loss of $2.2 million in the third quarter, which was an improvement from a $3.4 million operating loss in the same period a year earlier. The company’s real estate development division had an operating loss of $499,000 in the third quarter, an improvement from a $16.2 million operating loss a year earlier.

Maui Land said it couldn’t recognize the operating profit from the golf course sale earlier because of accounting rules. Though the company received proceeds from the $50 million sale last year and used it largely to pay down debt, the financial gain couldn’t be counted until Maui Land completed certain improvements to the irrigation system. Maui Land also has an obligation to lease back the course until March at a cost of $4 million a year.

Another $2 million in profit from the Plantation Course sale has yet to be booked. That gain is expected to be recognized by Maui Land as operating profit over the next two quarters.

A similar treatment of operating profit is planned for Maui Land’s $24.1 million sale of its Kapalua Bay Golf Course in September. The gain from that sale is expected to be recognized in March upon completion of certain sale obligations including leasing back the course.