Shui On Construction and Materials (Socam) reported last year's net profit amounted to HK$702 million, thanks to the spin-off of its mainland real estate arm for a separate listing. Earnings were 16.6 per cent higher than the HK$602 million for the last nine months in 2006. The company switched its financial year to the calendar year in 2006 and did not give comparable figures for 2007 results. Shui On booked a HK$417 million gain from the listing of China Central Properties (CCP) on the London AIM board last year, and narrowed its losses at its cement operation to HK$15 million from HK$53 million for the nine-month period in 2006. Turnover amounted to HK$2.81 billion, compared with HK$1.68 billion for the nine months. A final dividend of 65 HK cents will be declared. Socam holds 40.4 per cent in CCP, which specialises in acquiring distressed mainland property projects for redevelopment and resale. Chairman Vincent Lo Hong-sui expressed confidence in the firm's prospects citing CCP's rapid expansion in coming years. 'Socam is transforming into a fully fledged property development company. Our development projects will typically be city-centre sites of small to medium scale with a shorter development cycle,' he said. Philip Wong, a managing director at Socam Asset Management (HK), which is the investment manager of CCP, said CCP's property development portfolio had expanded to 1.2 million square metres in seven cities such as Beijing, Dalian, Chongqing and Guangzhou, up from 450,000 square metres last year. In the short run, he said CCP would offer two office developments in Beijing and Dalian with a combined gross floor area of 130,000 square metres for sale. 'The revenue from the sale of the two office projects will ready to be booked in this financial year,' said Mr Wong. He said CCP would also acquire small to medium-sized distressed land for development instead of buying half-built properties. On the cement division, Socam managing director Frankie Wong hoped to turn around the operation this year to tap rising selling prices. During the year, Socam fetched HK$929 million from the disposal of a stake in Shui On Land for debt repayment and is seeking opportunities to use the remaining proceeds for investment. Shares of Socam rose 2.38 per cent to HK$19.78 yesterday.