BUY Hongkong Exchanges and Clearing BOC International has maintained its 'outperform' rating, saying it expected earnings in the second half to improve. Analyst Anthony C.H. Lok said a pick-up in the overall market, the ability to maintain its investment returns and a move to reign in costs by new chief executive Paul Chow Man-yiu would be key to the company's core profitability. 'With interest rates stable for the time being, it is likely that earnings in the second half will be substantially better than in the first half,' Mr Lok said. He expects earnings to grow 5 per cent to 58 cents a share this year and 5 per cent to 61 cents next year. HOLD I-Cable Communications Daiwa Institute of Research has maintained its '3' rating on i-Cable - meaning it expects the stock to perform within 5 per cent of the Hang Seng Index in the next six months. Analyst Jenny Szeto has lowered her price target for the counter to $2.20. She noted sentiment towards the issue had been positive as a result of higher subscriber growth due to Sars and speculation Wharf might take i-Cable private, but the mood was now changing. I-Cable's earnings are expected to rise 90 per cent to 11 cents a share this year but come in flat at 11.3 cents next year. BUY Swire Pacific Sun Hung Kai Research has assigned a 'buy' rating, saying contributions from Swire's aviation division will return to normal in the fourth quarter. Analyst Eva Cheng expects a 14 per cent decline in earnings to $2.99 per share this year due to weakness at Cathay Pacific Airways. She expects a rebound at Cathay next year to drive Swire's net profit up 19 per cent to $5.4 billion or $3.56 a share. Ms Cheng has a 12-month price target of $37 per share.