Excel Technology International expects a return to profit with earnings of not less than HK$13 million in the year to December 31, after losing HK$10.66 million last year. Chief executive Peggy Chan Mei-chu said a freeze on software spending by banks and financial institutions, which accounted for 66 per cent of sales before the millennium roll-over, led to a slowdown in income last year. Increased spending on staff and software development also led to the drop in profitability last year, Ms Chan said. She said strong demand was seen from financial institutions for the company's software products this year. Excel forecasts 67.3 per cent growth in turnover to HK$164 million this year from HK$98 million last year. The company also plans to sell 150 million new shares at HK$1.35 to HK$1.40 each to raise between HK$202.5 million and HK$210 million. Based on the year's earnings forecast, the shares have a price-earnings ratio of 90 to 93 times. The company starts the initial public offering today with share trading debuting on the Growth Enterprise Market on June 30. Ms Chan said Cheung Kong (Holdings), which will own 11.2 per cent of Excel, had the first right of participation in any joint-venture project not requiring a technical partner.