Strong property sales underpinned a surge in New World Development's underlying interim profit, which soared 83 per cent to HK$1.86 billion, largely on the back of contributions from Harbour Place in Hung Hom and Wylie Court in Ho Man Tin. The company said net profit, including a property revaluation gain of HK$2.37 billion, rose to HK$5.35 billion in the six months to December, compared with a loss of HK$992 million in the previous corresponding period. A recovery in the Hong Kong property market last year helped New World to record strong sales. Its joint-venture project - The Masterpiece - in Tsim Sha Tsui, developed with the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), generated revenue of HK$6 billion. The project has been completed, with 60 per cent of the units sold. However, the revenue could not be booked in the first half because New World was still negotiating with the URA on the arrangement of retail and hotel space for the project. The Masterpiece is the developer's most profitable project and will be the main earnings driver in the second half of the year, which ends in June. The developer has also sold most of the units at Belcher's Hill, a luxury residential project in Western district. Two luxury projects and two mass residential projects with 1,181 units will be launched in the market in the next two years. Managing director Henry Cheng Kar-shun yesterday said the property market outlook remained positive. 'I don't see that the new supply of housing will increase sharply in the near future. I believe property prices will show stable growth [and] will rise 10 per cent this year,' Cheng said. He is one of the few developers to suggest that the government resume its Home Ownership Scheme (HOS). 'Developers don't want to see the government resume the HOS because it pushes down property prices. However, I personally think the government should resume the policy for the benefit of the society as a whole,' Cheng said. He said he believed that the prices of private housing would not be affected even if the government released 4,000 HOS flats on to the market in one go. Early this month, Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat accused New World of manipulating sales of The Masterpiece by selling at least seven of the first 30 flats released in August to Cheng's relatives. '[The buying of units at the project is] an investment only. We didn't manipulate the selling prices of the projects. The prices of the units we bought were endorsed by the URA. The legislators were trying to score political points,' he said. New World's acquisitions of residential sites above the Austin MTR station this month boosted the company's land bank to 6.7 million square feet. The company has proposed an interim dividend of 10 HK cents a share, up from nine HK cents in the previous period. Shares in New World rose 1.7 per cent to close at HK$15.54 yesterday, while New World China climbed 0.35 per cent to HK$2.89.