Bucking a depressed trend in China's home-appliance market, Qingdao Haier, one of the nation's biggest producers, has posted robust first-half earnings. The Qingdao-based company said its first-half net profit surged 120 per cent to 399.56 million yuan (about HK$374.38 million), thanks to strong gains from a newly acquired air-conditioner unit. Qingdao Haier, a Shanghai-listed A share, is a unit of Haier Group, whose main products are refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines, colour televisions, computers and mobile telephones. In February, United States magazine Appliance Manufacturer rated Haier Group ninth among the world's top-10 appliance producers. Haier Group was slotted behind Sharp and Toshiba but ahead of Hitachi. Whirlpool and Electrolux came in first and second. Earnings per share of the listed unit were 0.5 yuan, compared with 0.32 yuan for the first half last year. Turnover soared 140 per cent to 6.49 billion yuan, allowing Haier to control the largest share of the mainland's market for white goods (refrigerators, air-conditioners and washing machines). During the first half last year, the company's turnover totalled only 2.71 billion yuan. To strengthen its position in the air-conditioner sector, Qingdao Haier acquired Qingdao Air-Conditioner for two billion yuan earlier this year, a purchase which benefited the company handsomely. Haier said in its results announcement that profit from Qingdao Air-Conditioner totalled 367.39 million yuan, contributing 69 per cent of this year's interim earnings. But analysts cautioned that Qingdao Haier's positive financial numbers were no reflection of the market. 'The entire home-appliance market is very depressed, said Wu Shoukang, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities in Shenzhen. 'Haier's strong performance won't ease the doldrums.' Competition among white-goods manufacturers has grown sharply in the past few years as the mainland market reaches saturation. Loss-making Shanghai Narcissus Electric Appliance, a washing-machine maker, was an example. It was eventually forced to delist after years of dismal performances. Growing affluence in urban areas resulted in there being 91 washing machines in every 100 households by the end of 1999. Industry estimates showed that while China has an annual production capacity of 25 million washing machines, yearly output is about 15 million units. Hong Kong-listed Guangdong Kelon Electrical Holdings suffered a 690 million yuan loss for last year, but China's biggest refrigerator maker has forecast a return to profit for this year due to lower production costs.