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Alexander & Baldwin One Year After the Split

Stocks in this article: ALEX MATX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's been just more than a year since the former Alexander & Baldwin, separated into two publicly traded companies, one keeping the company's original name Alexander & Baldwin (ALEX), and the other Matson Navigation (MATX).

Prior to the separation, this was an interesting combination of businesses, real estate and shipping. Given their differences however, it was also ripe for some sort of transaction in order to unlock value. Judging by the results so far, overall the transaction has been a success. While Alexander and Baldwin shares are up 62% since the transaction was completed, Matson Navigation shares are down about 3%.

ALEX Chart ALEX data by YCharts

I originally took a position primarily because of the company's real estate holdings, now owned by Alexander & Baldwin, which at year end 2012 included 87,240 acres in Hawaii. While three quarters of this land is located in Maui, much of it, nearly 57,326 acres is currently used for agriculture, primarily sugarcane. Another 29,170 acres are for watershed/conservation, so not all of this land is available for development. There's also an additional 467 acres in eight other states, and a substantial portfolio of commercial real estate, that at year-end included 19 properties in Hawaii (1.4 million square feet), and 23 properties on the mainland (6.5 million square feet). But needless to say, this is a compelling portfolio of real estate.

Last month, the company expanded its footprint through the acquisition of Hawaiian construction company Grace Pacific for $235 million in stock and cash. This should be a positive for the Alexander & Baldwin, and according to management, should also allow it to begin paying a small dividend, a practice it stopped last year, when the company separated.

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