Tianjin Development Holdings, which mainly engages in utility and infrastructure operations in its northern home base, will budget up to HK$2 billion for commercial properties this year to add real estate investment as a core business. 'We have invested HK$1 billion so far this year, and our total investment for the sector will amount to between HK$1.5 billion and HK$2 billion for the year,' said executive director Nie Jiansheng. The company has bought 100 per cent of Courtyard Hong Kong, a four-star hotel managed by Marriott Hong Kong in Western, and 75 per cent of Hyatt Tianjin Hotel, a five-star hotel in Tianjin's city centre, Mr Nie said. 'From a long-term perspective we believe that commercial property projects will generate decent returns ... and therefore we will continue to explore hotels and office buildings with investment potential,' he said. Mr Nie made the remarks yesterday as Tianjin Development released its annual results for last year. Total revenue rose 26 per cent to HK$3.39 billion. Its core businesses in infrastructure and utility operations reported revenue of HK$1.33 billion and HK$2.05 billion respectively, up 10 per cent and 40 per cent from a year ago. Net profit leaped 25 per cent to HK$690.3 million. The company, which saw earnings per share increase 16 per cent to 67.4 HK cents from 57.9 HK cents a year ago, proposed a final dividend of 5.6 HK cents per share, up from 4.6 HK cents in 2006. As the 'window company' of Hebei province's key city, Tianjin Development should do well with its new and existing businesses, said Francis Lun Sheung-nim, the general manager of Fulbright Securities. 'Government support to companies is very vital on the mainland and as long as it continues to obtain such support from the local government, it will be a good stock for investors to buy,' Mr Lun said. Kenny Tang Sing-hing, an associate director with Tung Tai Securities, shared Mr Lun's view, saying that the company's special status probably allowed it easier access to loans and faster build-up of its land bank than others. With such support, 'Tianjin Development will do fine with its new property projects, even though the mainland's property market is slumping under the state's tightening measures', Mr Tang said. Tianjin intends to spend another HK$1 billion on the utility and water treatment business and its subsidiary Tianjin Port Development Holdings. The firm's shares rose 2.39 per cent to close yesterday at HK$5.57.