The big story of the week is, of course, Maui Land & Pineapple Co.’s announcement that it’s laying off 274 workers—representing over a quarter of its workforce—in what The Maui News artfully termed a “reorganization.” The move, which CEO David Cole (who, according to businessweek.com, pulls in $550,00o a year) called, “difficult but necessary,” will save ML&P about $11 million. The cuts came as a result of (cue familiar music) soaring oil prices and a sluggish economy. According to a statement released by the company, Maui Pine will now look to produce enough fruit to stock local markets and a few Mainland accounts, but will shrink its operations drastically.
In this economic climate, even slight growth is something to tout. It’s the equivalent of not just keeping your head above water in a rising flood, but actually managing to swim a few strokes forward. The Pacific Business News reports that Bank of Hawaii enjoyed another profitable quarter, with shares rising $1 per. Speaking with the measured blandness one would expect from a successful banker, CEO Allan Landon attributed the company’s success to its “disciplined approach to credit and balance sheet management as the Hawaii economy slows.” Yes, folks, when that’s what passes for good news, you can bet the picture is pretty bleak.
Alexander & Baldwin saw its second quarter earnings slide 7.5 percent as the company was hit on both the shipping and agricultural fronts, according to Nasdaq figures and PBN. Rising fuel costs (is there an echo in here?) and lower cargo volume were the culprits on the shipping side, where the company did post a profit, but at a significantly lower level than last year. Meanwhile, persistent drought on Maui led to a $5 million agribusiness drop-off, with little rain—or concurrent economic improvement—in sight.
According to a self-congratulatory press release fired off by Maui Electric Company, MECO has been named one of the top ten Solar Integrated Utilities in the country by the nonprofit Solar Electric Power Association. While some might say this designation should be a no-brainer in a place as solar rich as Maui, stillC9it’s some mildly good news attached to a power company. We’ll take it. If there’s one complaint heard more than any other in the news business it’s that we only report on the grim stuff. So here’s a ray of sunshine, literally. Now a word of advice for MECO: Don’t rest on your laurels. You ranked in the top ten in multiple solar-related categories, but you weren’t number one in any. So there’s work to be done. MTW