Esprit Asia Recommendation: Buy Brokerage: Salomon Brothers FASHION retailer Esprit Asia has reported interim profit growth of 28 per cent. The results should please the market and may result in a jump in the share's performance in the near term. In recent months its shares have drifted down due to market weakness and concern over potential earnings risks. But earnings have not disappointed and sentiment on the counter remains positive. Sales grew by 39 per cent in the six-month accounting period, mainly because of sharp increases in new South Korean, Taiwanese and mainland markets. Investors should remember Esprit's regional expansion only began two years ago and the company has yet to experience the full impact of new markets. Beiren Printing Recommendation: Hold Brokerage: Salomon Brothers MANAGEMENT at Beiren Printing has indicated the company is likely to reach its downwardly revised earnings forecast of 85 million yuan for 1994. But the brokerage is maintaining its 1994 profit forecast of 90 million yuan, even though it is 5.8 per cent higher than the company's projections and about 2.3 per cent higher than the consensus forecast of 87.9 million yuan. Beiren has the largest share of China's fragmented printing machinery market - 13 per cent - and the company is significantly exposed to the government's credit tightening measures. Pressure on sales growth is likely to continue. Hysan Development Recommendation: Sell Brokerage: Sassoon Securities HYSAN has recently obtained an 'A' rating from Standard & Poor's. Although it is slightly below Sun Hung Kai Properties and Swire Pacific's 'A' rating, it is still an impressive achievement, given its smaller size and less diversified business operations. Although its management maintains there is no immediate cash need, the rating will give the group a chance to tap the internal bond market, which allows long-term financing if the need arises. The group has confirmed it is interested in taking part in the bidding for a Personal Communication Network licence. Cheung Kong Recommendation: Long-Term Buy Brokerage: Seapower Securities IN LINE with market expectations, Cheung Kong posted an earnings growth of 3.4 per cent last year. Although the income from its listed associate, Hutchison Whampoa, and property developments was satisfactory, the estimated decrease in contribution from its finance and investment operation - $3.05 billion in 1993 - has harmed its profitability. It is difficult to see a breakthrough in development profits for 1995 and 1996 in given the lack of projects due to be completed in this period. Worse still, its performance, especially for 1996, will rely heavily on the massive Kingswood Villa development in Yuen Long.