Group rewards shareholders after posting 377 per cent surge in interim earnings but warns of slowdown in second half New World Development (NWD) may see a slowdown in robust property sales revenue in its second half because deals from its two flagship residential projects cannot be booked into its accounts until its next financial year, according to the management. Property sales boosted net profit by 377.5 per cent for the six months to December last year and this prompted the firm to give shareholders a five times larger dividend. However, managing director Henry Cheng Kar-shun is confident the one-off gain from the sale of its indirect stake in Asia Container Terminals (ACT) could offset the expected property revenue fall. NWD would share a $900 million exceptional gain from the sale of the 31.4 per cent of ACT by its infrastructure and services arm NWS Holdings in its second half to June, Mr Cheng said yesterday. 'This disposal gain will act as a cushion and help the group to have more equally distributed earnings in the full year to the end of June,' he said. The $4 billion proceeds from sales of its 1,182-unit Merton residential project in Kennedy Town, and the soon-to-be-launched 1,472-unit Grandiose in Tseung Kwan O will not be booked into its second-half earnings. NWD cannot book the two projects because they are awaiting government occupancy permits, which may not be issued until at least September for the Merton and early next year for the Grandiose. The conglomerate, with businesses ranging from property development and hotels to telecommunications and department stores, would launch about 2,000 units worth about $3 billion to $4 billion this year, Mr Cheng said. The stock included 154 unsold units at the Merton. 'Cash is king. We will not hold back our property stocks because you can never predict the market,' he said. NWD posted net profit of $1.12 billion, or 33 cents per share, in the first half. A dividend of 10 cents per share was declared, compared with two cents a year earlier. Booming market sentiment has helped NWD's property sales and investment revenue jump to $916.2 million from $299.7 million. The company wrote back $224.6 million from its provision for properties during the past six months. Strong retail spending also lifted department store revenue to $49.1 million from $14.3 million. Nonetheless, turnover was almost flat at $11.51 billion, against $11.38 billion previously. Almost all units of NWD's business arms posted positive results, except New World TMT. The listed telecommunications unit said first-half net loss narrowed to $196.24 million from a loss of $270.19 million a year ago. Its turnover rose 16.92 per cent to $214.14 million. No dividend was declared, as last year. NWD's net debt was down at $18.3 billion at the end of December from $21.61 billion at the end of June. Its cash stood at $7.23 billion. Mr Cheng reiterated the management's target to bring its gearing level to below 20 per cent by the end of the year. It stood at 32.8 per cent at the end of December.