Lai Sun Development Co (LSD) said property sales boosted net earnings for the financial year to July by 18 per cent to $904.69 million. But profits at its parent company, Lai Sun Garment (International), fell 20.6 per cent to $316.23 million due to a slowdown in the garment making business. LSD said it has sold three major developments while the property market was booming in the year up until the handover, giving the company total real estate sales of about $886 million. They included the Polly Commercial Building in Tsim Sha Tsui and two residential projects, Cambridge Place in Kowloon Tong and Shining Court in Shun Ning Road, Shamshuipo. Operating profit rose 45.2 per cent to $1.12 billion from $776.17 million in the year to July 1996. Basic earnings per share were 95.3 cents, against 92.7 cents in the previous period. Fully diluted earnings per share were 86.8 cents, against 89.5 cents. Despite the growth in earnings, LSD said it decided to pay a smaller final dividend to shareholders to reserve capital for future development projects and long-term benefits. A dividend per share was recommended at 13.5 cents, 40 per cent lower than the 22.5 cents paid for the year to July 1996. Together with the interim dividend of 12.5 cents, the dividend payment for the year was 26 cents per share. LSD did not elaborate on future investment plans, but analysts said the company needed capital after its $6.9 billion general offer of Furama Hotel Enterprises. As of Thursday, LSD's holding in the hotel concern was 98.41 per cent. The deadline for the general offer has been extended to December 15. LSD's gearing is more than 50 per cent after the purchase, analysts estimated. To generate funds for its mainland expansion, LSD announced the proposed spin-off of its China property and infrastructure vehicle Lai Fung Holdings for a separate listing on stock exchange. LSD said details of the listing have not yet been finalised but the flotation is expected by market watchers to go ahead by the end of this year. Crocodile Garments, which is 55 per cent owned by Lai Sun Garment, said profits jumped $32 million from $954,000, thanks to an improvement in apparel exports and an upturn in its retail business. Despite the improved profit contribution from its 39 per cent stake in LSD, Lai Sun Garment said earnings for the year fell 20 per cent to $316.23 million from $398.48 million. Turnover rose 18.9 per cent to $4.6 billion from $3.87 billion and earnings per share were $1.24, against $1.56 each. Directors declared a final dividend of 20 cents per share, down from 25 cents for the same period last year. Together with a 20-cent interim dividend, the company's full-year dividend was 40 cents per share. Crocodile's earnings per share soared to $5.19 from $0.15 on turnover of $1.04 billion. Directors declared a final dividend of 1.5 cents per share.