Jingwei Textile Machinery, the mainland's largest textile machinery-maker, is predicting a pick-up in its fortunes in the 1999 financial year after posting a 54 per cent fall in net profit to 34.9 million yuan (about HK$32.48 million) for the year to December 31. But company officials yesterday said they could not estimate when Jingwei would be able to turn itself around from its losses in the second half of last year, saying there were too many variables in the market. The full-year profit drop followed a 10.2 per cent fall in turnover to 587.4 million yuan. Interim profit was 39.28 million yuan. Officials said stripping out interest income and provisions for doubtful debts, the company earned about the same amount of underlying profit in the first and second halves of last year. Financial controller Yao Yuming said gross profit margin slid to 20.4 per cent from 22.6 per cent because of falling production and selling prices and rising costs. The company is expected to see a further gross profit margin decline this year as it launches new products. Mr Yao said gross profit margin for the new products would initially be lower than the existing ones because of high fixed costs during the early production stage and relatively high import costs for the new products. Vice-chairman Liu Shitong expected the gross profit margin for new products would be on a par with the existing products by early next year. The company hoped the new products would make up the 200 million yuan shortfall from falling sales in spinning frames - its major product - this year. It also expected smaller interest income this year following the use of some capital. Mr Liu expected sales this year to be flat or slightly higher than last year's, but next year would be better.