Sichuan Changhong Electric, one of the mainland's largest television makers, said irst-half net profit surged more than 50 per cent after an expansion in the product mix to meet local demand. The company said profit was at least 188 million yuan for the first six months this year compared with 125.3 million yuan in the same period last year. It did not provide further details. Sichuan Changhong is recovering from slow growth last year when intense competition among liquid crystal display makers forced it to cut prices. Its sales grew 8.3 per cent to 7.79 billion yuan in the first half of last year. To diversify from the crowded LCD market, the company made more plasma televisions which have bigger screens than LCD televisions at the same price. The company agreed to invest about 1.8 billion yuan last year in an 80-20 joint venture, Century Shuanghong Display Devices, with Irico Group Electronics, a Hong Kong-listed manufacturer of television parts, to produce plasma televisions. Two months later, the venture bought 75 per cent of South Korean panel maker Orion PDP for US$99.9 million. Production is expected to start in the second half of this year, with annual capacity of two million units, according to mainland media. The joint venture's only asset at the end of June last year was about 2.83 million yuan in cash. It also carried deferred expenses of about 1.17 million yuan. Sichuan Changhong last month also agreed to sell a 0.8 per cent stake to Microsoft Corp, the world's biggest software maker, in order to jointly develop televisions that can connect to the internet. Shares in Sichuan Changhong, which gained 144 per cent over the past year, fell 2.19 per cent to close at 8.47 yuan yesterday.