Cheung Kong (Holdings) has announced a 30.19 per cent drop in net profit for last year to HK$32.15 billion as a result of lower contributed earnings from Hutchison Whampoa.
Profit excluding Hutchison's attributable earnings and investment property valuation rose 8 per cent to HK$14.21 billion, slightly better than analysts' expectations. Turnover fell 26.57 per cent to HK$31.11 billion.
Chairman Li Ka-shing said overall market conditions will continue to be affected by external economic factors and local property policies.
He said he expected home prices to remain stable on the back of rising building costs and low interest rates. "Interest rates will remain low."
While some improvement has been seen in the economic outlook of the United States, the global economic outlook remains fragile as uncertainties in the euro zone continue to weigh on the pace of global recovery, according to Li.
Earnings per share last year amounted to HK$13.88. Directors declared a final dividend of HK$2.63 a share, bringing the full-year dividend to HK$3.16 a share, unchanged from 2011.
"The results are better than expected," said Adrian Ngan Wai-hung, an executive director at Citic Securities' real estate equity research department, adding it was partly because of the company's asset disposals on the mainland.
In the second half of last year, the company sold its equity interests in Beijing's Metropark Lido Hotel, making a profit of HK$450 million.
Ngan said he believes Cheung Kong could maintain the momentum of property sales because of its flexible pricing strategy.
"If buyers do not buy unless prices drop, I believe the company will adjust prices to meet market need," Ngan said.
During the year, the company saw less profit contribution from property sales, it said. As fewer properties were completed last year, they were not included in the 2012 results.
Contribution from property sales last year was HK$10 billion, against HK$11.22 billion in 2011. However, property rental income rose 16.49 per cent to HK$1.98 billion.
Looking ahead, Cheung Kong said that property sales for this year will mainly be derived from flats at The Beaumount in Tseung Kwan O, One West Kowloon in Lai Chi Kok and Kennedy Park in Central.
More than 95 per cent of the flats from the three developments have been sold.
Meanwhile, Li said, the company has no plans to follow the move by Henderson Land Development to donate farmland to the government.