San Miguel Brewery Hong Kong has posted better than expected annualised growth of 45.9 per cent in the year to December 31. Improved sales locally and in Guangzhou lifted net profit to HK$87.65 million, well above the 20 per cent to 30 per cent range forecast by analysts. Net profit at its local operations rose 30 per cent year on year, while Guangzhou Brewery's were up 153 per cent. Figures show the operating profit margin improved during the year. Turnover was up a marginal 1 per cent to HK$1.35 billion, but the operating margin increased to 7.69 per cent from 6.23 per cent in 1999. The company generated a HK$104.24 million operating profit on a HK$1.35 billion turnover, compared with 1999's HK$83.73 million operating profit and HK$1.34 billion turnover. Earnings per share improved 43.75 per cent to 23 HK cents, up from 16 HK cents previously, and the company declared a final dividend of four HK cents, a rise of one HK cent on the final dividend struck a year earlier. The company complained its share price performance did not correspond with its results. Yesterday its price was unchanged at HK$1.81. 'Directors are of the opinion that the company's share price does not reflect the momentum of gains made over the past three years as profit attributable to shareholders of HK$87.657 million in 2000 is 16 times the profit of HK$5.49 million for 1997,' the company said. Instead its shares eased 27.6 per cent, from HK$1.95 at the end of 1997 to HK$1.41 at the end of last year. San Miguel's shares have long been trading in a rather limited range of between HK$1.20 and HK$1.40. The share price shot up to as much as HK$2.175 this week on rumours that parent San Miguel of the Philippines was planning to privatise the Hong Kong operations. These delisting rumours were later denied by San Miguel officials.