Mandarin Oriental International, which owns and manages hotels, warned yesterday that increasingly difficult markets meant profit growth was likely to fall in the second half. Chairman Simon Keswick said conditions had turned weaker since mid-year due to reduced visitor arrivals to Hong Kong and the financial uncertainty in some regional markets. The company yesterday said profit after taxation rose 18.3 per cent to US$33.6 million for the six months to June 30, close to analysts' expectations. Turnover increased 25 per cent to $133.6 million, and earnings per share increased 18.1 per cent to 4.82 cents. Mr Keswick said the first half's strongest performances came from the the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and the Excelsior as well as the Mandarin Oriental Manila. Recently acquired hotels in London, Hawaii and Surabaya made steady progress in establishing the group's presence. Hotels in Macau and Jakarta returned lower contributions, reflecting visitor declines in those markets. The board declared an interim dividend of 1.65 cents a share, unchanged from last year.