Shun Tak Holdings saw underlying profit slump 69.42 per cent last year as its transportation arm was hit by fluctuating fuel prices and restrictions on mainland visitors to Macau. Underlying profit totalled HK$196 million, down from HK$641 million a year earlier. Including a revaluation deficit of HK$95 million and other non-cash items, net profit was HK$101.36 million, down 90 per cent from HK$1.01 billion in 2007 when it recorded an HK$82 million property revaluation gain and a special gain of HK$291 million from the acquisition of subsidiaries. The company declared a final dividend of 1.3 HK cents, down from 14 HK cents. Analysts remain cautious on the company's outlook amid the sluggish global economy. Last year was 'exceptionally challenging for the transportation division, burdened by a multitude of factors including an abrupt fluctuation in fuel prices, stiff competition, visa restrictions on mainland visitors and global economic downturn', group executive chairman Stanley Ho Hung-sun said in a statement. An 8 per cent decline in passenger volume on its Hong Kong-Macau ferry route and a 42 per cent jump in fuel costs due to rising oil prices meant the shipping division posted an operating loss of HK$149.63 million last year, compared with an operating profit of HK$259.18 million in 2007. On the property side, revenue recognised from the sale of Nova City Phase 3, a residential project in Macau, lifted operating profit by 28.91 per cent to HK$369.81 million. Residential units at One Central, a joint venture with Hongkong Land Holdings in Macau, will be ready for delivery by the third quarter of this year, with 97 per cent of the units sold at the end of last year. The completion of One Central would help boost earnings from the property division, one analyst said, but it remained to be seen whether more buyers would choose not to complete the deal if property prices continued to fall. Meanwhile, the shopping centre at One Central is scheduled to open by the end of this year, while the hotel and serviced apartments are expected to receive the first guest in the first quarter of next year. 'Whether there will be further visa restrictions on mainland visitors and the recovery pace of the global economy will have a big impact on Macau's economy and Shun Tak's results,' the analyst said. Shun Tak shares surged 12.35 per cent yesterday to close at HK$2.73 before the results announcement.