Midland Realty (Holdings) said net profit in the year to December 31 jumped nearly fivefold to $50.69 million. Chairman Freddie Wong Kin-yip said the growth was attributable to the company's efforts to improve productivity and reduce costs. In the year, rental expenses showed a drop of $57 million compared with 1998. Salary and commission expenses fell $46 million and provisions for bad debt declined $25 million. Finance costs fell to $13.07 million from $21.33 million. Earnings per share amounted to 8.6 cents, against 1.7 cents in 1998. A final dividend of 1.5 cents per share was declared, bringing a full-year payout of three cents each. Mr Wong said the company would take advantage of its Web site to help its real estate agency business in improving the productivity of agents, enhancing the efficiency of the branch and reducing operating costs. Expecting growth in property transaction volume this year, Mr Yip said the company would take the opportunity to open more shops and expand market share through acquisitions.