Improved revenues from its property associate and cash drawn from its reserve development fund helped Hong Kong Electric Holdings record a 13.3 per cent rise in profit last year. Attributable profit in the year to the end of December was $4.7 billion, up from $4.15 billion in 1996. By comparison, profits from the firm's core electricity generating and transmission business showed a more moderate 7 per cent rise, held back slightly by the cooler weather last summer. 'Although 1997 was the wettest year on record in Hong Kong, HKE was still able to register a 2.3 per cent increase in electricity sales and a new maximum demand record of 2,205 megawatts, up 4.1 per cent from last year,' the company said. Turnover grew 5 per cent to $8.06 billion. 'Everyone was expecting sluggish turnover,' said SBC Warburg Dillon Read analyst Joseph Lee, who described the results as in line with expectations. Hong Kong Electric has a 20 per cent stake in property company Secan. Secan's profits were boosted last year with the sale of 500 parking spaces at South Horizons to Guoco Land for $400 million. The sale helped profits from Secan attributable to Hong Kong Electric rise almost tenfold to $298 million from $30 million in 1996. Hong Kong Electric also drew down $218 million from the development fund. The firm can tap this fund to top up profits when its core power supply profits fall below an amount agreed under the scheme of its control contract with the government. In years when the company earns more than the determined amount it has to put excess cash into the fund. After drawing down cash for last year, the company has about $336 million in the development fund. The firm said the regional financial turmoil had had a negligible effect on the group. Earnings per share were $2.33 and the company declared a final dividend of 85.5 cents, a rise of 10 per cent over last year.