BUSINESS growth across the board has lifted the profit of Wheelock & Co by 61.1 per cent to $940.3 million for the six months to September 30. In addition to contributions from property, retailing and services, the booming stock market brought handsome investment gains for the group. Operating profit, mainly from investment gains, nearly doubled to $214.4 million from $108.2 million, and the company said a ''significant'' contribution had come from investments, although it was not the company's policy to chase high-powered capital gains. Chairman Peter Woo Kwong-ching said the group saw steady growth in various businesses while its associate Wharf (Holdings), which reported a 44 per cent rise in interim results, accounted for about 70 per cent of Wheelock's total earnings. He said its other major money-earners included retail business Lane Crawford International and information management services firm COL Ltd. For the six months, earnings per share rose 61.8 per cent to 46.1 cents from 28.5 cents previously. Wheelock will pay an interim dividend of 9.5 cents a share, up from 7.5 cents. ''Our long-term strategic positioning for growth is now bringing results,'' said Mr Woo. ''As an entrepreneurial merchant house, Wheelock can now build on its excellent foundation for future business development and investment activities.'' On property development, he said Wheelock would continue to actively replenish and enlarge its land bank in Hong Kong and southern China. Mr Woo also expected to see a strong increase in recurring rental income from the investment properties of Wharf. He estimated that Times Square and the redevelopment of Gateway in Tsim Sha Tsui could generate annual rental income of about $1.5 billion. The strong property rental income would support the growth and expansion of its new and developing ventures in cable television, as well as the fixed telecommunications network services, he said. Mr Woo said the group was studying the possibility of participating in the proposed Route Three development, which was now open for tenders. If the plan was to materialise, he said, it would participate through the Cross Harbour Tunnel Co - in which Wharf has a 26.7 per cent interest - in partnership with other investors. He said it would be more suitable for the tunnel company to participate in the project, which would involve a lot of tunnel work along the route. Turning to Wheelock's recent move to take a 25 per cent interest in Climax International, Mr Woo said his group would not take over Climax. He said Wheelock was a partner with Climax and there would be co-operation opportunities between the two companies for business development in China and abroad. He indicated that Wheelock was looking at opportunities for more equity investments in listed or private companies with good potential for business growth, particularly in China and overseas. In such investments, the group intended to take an equity interest of 20 to 25 per cent, or a maximum of 30 per cent, he said. But Wheelock would not be involved in the day-to-day management and operation of those companies, he said. Wheelock has an established policy to have 10 to 20 per cent of net asset value designated for its investments in China. To date, the mainland investments committed by Wheelock are less than 10 per cent of its net asset value. Wheelock's debt to equity ratio is below 10 per cent. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Realty and Trust Co, 37 per cent owned by Wheelock, yesterday reported a 25.1 per cent rise in profit to $540 million for the six months to September. Earnings per share were $1.30 for A shares and 26.1 cents for B shares. But turnover for the period fell 19.5 per cent to $768.9 million. Hong Kong Realty will pay an interim dividend of 16.75 cents per A share and 3.35 cents per B share.