First Sign International Holdings has reported a 28.44 per cent jump in first-half net profit to $100.34 million with the help of $15 million from interest income. The company, which has exclusive rights to make and market all Montagut products excluding knitwear in Hong Kong, China and Macau, will pay a dividend of seven cents, against five cents in the previous corresponding period. Operating profit before tax soared about 29 per cent to $119.1 million for the six months to December. This included interest on $500 million cash reserves. Analysts said the results were in line with expectations and should allow the company to post full-year net profit of $276.6 million, a consensus in the December issue of The Estimate Directory. First Sign's financial controller, Tong Yat-chong, said reserves included the $279 million net proceeds raised in its 1995 flotation. 'We haven't spent any money from the listing since we have been looking for some brands,' chairman Lau Tung-hoi said. First Sign said in its prospectus it had budgeted $254 million to buy 'recognised' brands. 'It takes time. We talked to two European brands, but [they] fell through. Now, we're working with a merchant bank which will act as middleman for any possible purchases,' Mr Lau said. First Sign planned to launch a range of Montagut accessories this year. The company holds the rights over the French company's products until 2015. Mr Lau declined to name them, but they are expected to be Montagut's make-up and skin-care products, watches and glasses.