Matson’s earnings surge on tax cuts

Matson Inc. operated on a fairly even keel in the third quarter balancing higher revenue and expenses, but the Honolulu company benefited from lower taxes to boost its profit 22 percent.

Hawaii’s largest ocean cargo transportation firm announced Monday that it earned $41.6 million in the July-September period compared with $34.1 million in the same quarter last year.

There were some small ups and downs within Matson’s service areas that include Hawaii, China, Guam and Alaska. But the big factor in the company’s bottom line was lower taxes.

Matson said in its financial report that it carried 37,500 containers in its main trade lane between the West Coast and Hawaii in the third quarter. That was down 1 percent from 37,900 containers in the same quarter last year but was primarily due to making one more trip in the year-ago quarter.

“The Hawaii economy continues to be strong, supported primarily by healthy tourism activity and low unemployment,” the company said in the report.

Matson said its China container volume slipped 3 percent due to the return of a ship for maintenance work.

Guam container volume was flat, while Alaska volume slipped 2 percent largely due to a weaker seafood season, Matson said.

On the positive side, Matson said its rates in China were higher, and it generated an additional $27 million in revenue in the recent quarter from part of its business that involves coordinating ground transportation and handling services for customers.

Overall revenue rose 8 percent to $589 million in the recent quarter from $544 million a year earlier. But mostly because of higher expenses, total income before taxes slipped by $700,000 to $54.9 million from $55.6 million in the same period.

Matson’s income tax bill was trimmed 38 percent to $13.3 million in the recent quarter because of federal breaks granted this year. In last year’s third quarter, Matson’s tax bill was $21.5 million.

Shares of Matson stock closed at $36.40 before the earnings report was released. Within the last 52 weeks, Matson shares have been as high as $40.29 on Oct. 3 and as low as $26.99 nearly a year ago on Nov. 14.

THIRD-QUARTER NET

$41.6 million

YEAR-EARLIER NET

$34.1 million

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