NWS Holdings, the infrastructure and services arm of New World Development, yesterday reported a double-digit jump in annual earnings, boosted by a construction boom in Macau and a buoyant stock market. Net profit jumped 21.06 per cent to HK$2 billion in the 12 months to June, while underlying earnings climbed 18 per cent to HK$2.29 billion. Turnover increased 19.96 per cent to HK$15.05 billion. Operating earnings from the service and rental unit, which includes facilities rental, contracting and financial services, generated 50 per cent of underlying profit compared with 42 per cent in the previous year. Following the acquisition of Taifook Securities, operating profit from financial services soared 115 per cent to HK$141.6 million, helped by the buoyant stock market. Contracting services increased 57 per cent to HK$255.9 million and, by the end of June, the group had secured contracts totalling HK$35.9 billion, of which 36.5 per cent were for projects in Macau. 'The construction boom in Macau has helped growth in the contracting business,' said executive director Tsang Yam-pui. 'Macau contracts have a higher margin that those in Hong Kong.' The company's infrastructure unit covering toll roads, power plants, water supply and ports recorded a modest 3 per cent gain in operating profit to HK$1.15 billion. Except for the energy business, which posted a 17 per cent drop in underlying profit as a one-off gain in the previous year was not repeated, the other three businesses in the unit recorded double-digit growth. Continued economic development in the Pearl River Delta, where the group has most of its 19 road and bridge projects, lifted earnings from toll roads, the biggest contributor. Mr Tsang said the group would invest HK$7 billion to HK$9 billion in the next three years on toll roads, water and railway logistics projects in the mainland and on financial services in Hong Kong. 'The mainland's toll-road network is nearly saturated, although there's huge potential in the development of railways,' he said. 'So we will seek development opportunities in this area,' he added without disclosing any specific projects. The outlook for Hong Kong's financial services business looked promising with more mainland funds likely to flow into the city via the 'through train' investment programme. NWS Holdings increased its stake in Taifook from 21.49 per cent to 61.29 per cent in June and now holds 57 per cent after the company's recent share placement. The company declared a final dividend of 30 HK cents per share, taking its annual dividend payout to 55 HK cents. Its shares closed 2.6 per cent higher at HK$20.50 yesterday.