Container leasing company Cosco Pacific, formerly known as Florens Group, has reported a 15.2 per cent rise in net profit despite a slight drop in its operating profit margin. The company, a subsidiary of the mainland-backed China Ocean Shipping Co (Cosco), yesterday said attributable profit for the year ended December 31 amounted to $361.61 million, compared with $314.03 million in 1994. Turnover rose 19 per cent to $968 million, from $812.8 million. Earnings per share fell 18.7 per cent to 32.84 cents, from 40.4 cents, because of a 600 million share issue in November. Proceeds of the placement financed the parent company's 50 per cent stake in Container Terminal 8 (East), which was later sold back to Cosco Pacific. The company will pay a final dividend of eight cents a share, bringing the payout to shareholders for the year to 14.28 cents, compared with 7.8 cents in 1994. The company's wholly owned subsidiary Frosti International, which owns 50 per cent of the equity interest in Container Terminal 8 (East), reported $208 million in attributable profit before extraordinary items. Over the period, operating profit margin for the container leasing business eased to 35.9 per cent from 38.8 per cent in 1994. Financial controller Francis Tang said the sliding profit margin was caused by rising interest charges and depreciation charges. Interest paid in the year surged 45 per cent to $144.4 million and depreciation charges grew 27.4 per cent to $474.2 million. The company cut its debt-to-equity ratio to 63.2 per cent, from 92.8 per cent a year earlier. It reported 100 per cent leasing out of its containers, which amounted to about 300,000 20-foot equivalent units. Container rental went down by 2 to 5 per cent as a result of a rise in interest rates, Mr Tang said.