SHK's 26.2pc gain ends interim blues

Kenneth Ko

ASIA'S booming equity markets saw the net profit of Sun Hung Kai and Co (SHK) jump 26.2 per cent to $410.2 million last year, bouncing back from declining profits in the interim.

Turnover for the year to December increased 24.3 per cent to $919.9 million.

In accordance with new accounting practices, an extraordinary gain of $14.9 million reported in the 1992 accounts has been reclassified and included in contributions from associated companies.

If the item was excluded, the financial services group would have posted an increase of 32.3 per cent in net profit.

The group attributed the higher-than-expected earnings growth to good performances by core businesses in broking, bullion, corporate finance, foreign exchange and fund management.

In the first six months of last year, a provision for exposure to China B shares and the poor performance of the Sun Sun Chan foreign exchange fund knocked 16.6 per cent off its interim profit.

Chairman Tony Fung Wing-cheung said the growth in turnover and profit was a result of increased diversification of the group's recurrent income base.

''This was mainly due to the group's success in expanding its core businesses in terms of geographical spread and distribution networks,'' he said.

Although the European and US markets were sluggish, growth of both the Hong Kong and China economies, combined with low interest rates internationally, had proved favourable for the Hong Kong stock market and other Asian stock markets, he said.

Earnings per share for the full year rose 17.8 per cent to 62.2 cents, from 52.8 cents in 1992.

The company will pay a final dividend of 23 cents a share, making a total payout of 33 cents for the year.

Mr Fung said business development of associated companies continued to progress satisfactorily.

However, its property associate Tian An China Investments Co said on Tuesday its net profit tumbled 24.6 per cent to $103.53 million, because it had opted to hold on to quality properties for investment purposes.

Mr Fung said SHK had expanded its stockbroking, corporate finance and investment operations in China and expected the mainland's emerging market to have ''a considerable impact on the group's long-term growth''.

Despite the breakdown in Sino-British negotiations, the group said the Hong Kong economy was expected to remain strong, supported by the continued economic growth of China and the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Fung expressed concern over recent rises in the prices of commercial and luxury residential properties because they might affect the fundamentals of the territory's economy.

He also said the debt and equity markets might be affected by the slow pace of recovery in Europe and the US.

''Domestic political concerns and tension over trade talks among the major industrialised countries are expected to result in rather stagnant market conditions,'' he said.