The growth in net profits of publicly traded mainland companies is expected to slow this year to about 20 per cent from the almost 50 per cent gain last year because of the impact of soaring commodity and oil prices. Still, analysts said profitability this year would be helped by a cut in corporate taxes to 25 per cent from 33 per cent. The net income of publicly traded mainland companies soared 49.7 per cent on average last year, boosted by the booming economy and strong stock investment returns. Figures unveiled by the Shanghai Securities News showed that profits at the 1,574 companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges totalled 949.7 billion yuan (HK$1.06 trillion) last year. Earnings per share rose 39.7 per cent to a high of 42 fen. Company revenue climbed 25 per cent to 9.45 trillion yuan, accounting for 38.3 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. 'The growth rate for listed companies' profitability must be lower this year,' said Gao Shanwen, the chief economist at Essence Securities. 'The rate will be dragged down by high commodity and oil prices.' Mr Gao said some companies, which relied partly on investments to generate profits, would record a slight net loss due to the volatile stock market. Analysts said domestic firms would see slower earnings growth this year, as the economy slowed with weak overseas demand for Chinese goods and tighter monetary policies. Jing Ulrich, the chairman of China equities research at JP Morgan, shared a similar view. 'Last year, investment earnings for the listed companies accounted for just 11 per cent of the overall profitability for non-financial companies,' Mrs Ulrich said. 'Therefore the impact of a market downturn is limited.' China's growth slowed to 10.6 per cent in the first quarter from 11.7 per cent a year earlier because of easing export growth and the impact of the worst snowstorms in more than five decades. The country's GDP expanded 11.9 per cent last year, the fifth year of double-digit growth. Mrs Ulrich said JP Morgan expected profit growth would remain strong in the first quarter, driven by good profitability in the financial sector, although the bank did not provide detailed forecast figures. According to the bank's figures, the financial sector contributed 38 per cent of total profits last year. Many of the big banks have reported profit growth ahead of expectations despite market downturns which affected investment gains.