March 2, 2011 / 12:47 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-St Joe has 11th straight loss, but shares rise

* Q4 loss/shr $0.03 vs est loss/shr $0.09

* Writedowns decline

* Shares rise as much as 8 percent (Rewrites, adds datelines)

NEW YORK/BANGALORE, March 2 (Reuters) - St Joe Co (JOE.N) posted its 11th-straight quarterly loss, after its biggest investor, star mutual fund manager Bruce Berkowitz, won the resignation of the Florida landowner’s chief executive.

The loss, however, was smaller than expected as writedowns declined, and St Joe shares on Wednesday rose as much as 8 percent.

Britt Greene, who had been chief executive since 2008, resigned this week from his job and from St Joe’s board. Three other directors also stepped down.

Berkowitz’s firm Fairholme Capital Management LLC owns a 28.9 percent, or nearly $700 million stake, in the company.

Monday’s changes gave Berkowitz four seats on the now seven-person board.

While Berkowitz himself had quit the board earlier in February amid disagreements over strategy and executive pay, he has maintained he saw untapped opportunity in St. Joe real estate, which include 574,000 acres in Florida.

On the opposite side of that bet has been hedge fund manager David Einhorn. His firm Greenlight Capital LLC has been shorting St Joe’s shares, betting they will fall.

    Late Tuesday night, St. Joe posted a fourth-quarter loss of $2.7 million, or 3 cents per share, compared with a loss of $58.7 million, or 64 cents, a year earlier.

    Results included $4.2 million of writedowns, down from $70.1 million a year earlier. Revenue for the Watersound, Florida-based company was unchanged at $37.1 million.

    Analysts on average had expected a loss of 9 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    St. Joe last month said it had hired Morgan Stanley to advise on its options, including a possible sale.

    In afternoon trading, St Joe shares were up 67 cents, or 2.7 percent, at $25.85, after earlier rising to $27.36.

    St. Joe’s market value was roughly $2.31 billion as of Tuesday’s close. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York and Divya Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das and Gerald E. McCormick)

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