THE Hongkong Bank of Australia posted a net profit last year for the first time since 1988, A$8.06 million (about HK$42.32 million) for the year ending December 31, compared with a net loss of $37.8 million in 1991. The result, which was in line with expectations, included an unspecified provision against non-performing assets. Although modest, the result signifies that parent HSBC Holdings' most troublesome overseas units - Marine Midland Bank in the United States, which recently recorded a profit after two years of losses, and now Hongkong Bank of Australia - have turned the corner. Chief executive Richard Orgill said he was optimistic that the group's performance would further improve in 1993, economic conditions permitting. Total assets at year-end stood at $2.96 billion, up 8.8 per cent from $2.72 billion a year earlier. The capital adequacy ratio rose from 8.96 per cent to 9.4 per cent.