SALE of a property boosted Kowloon Motor Bus Co's (KMB) interim attributable profit, which soared 715 per cent to $1.39 billion on turnover of $1.67 billion, up 16.1 per cent. Operating profit grew 15.97 per cent to $235.3 million. An exceptional gain of $1.21 billion on the sale of 81 How Ming Street in Kwun Tong accounted for 86.77 per cent of attributable profit. Earnings per share surged 716 per cent to 346.6 cents or, excluding the exceptional item, 45.9 cents, up eight per cent. Directors recommend an interim dividend of 20 cents per share, compared with 18 cents previously. The profit from bus operations stood at $185.1 million, up 7.8 per cent. That fell short of the permitted return under the Profit Control Scheme by about $10.2 million. Revenue increased 16.1 per cent due mainly to fare rises, which averaged 12.9 per cent and came into effect on April 1, and improved frequencies on some routes. Operating costs rose 15.9 per cent because of increases in salaries and wages. Company chairman Woo Pak-chuen said increasing competition between various forms of transport and other factors, such as the growing affluence of the population, had posed limitations on expansion. But it would seek to expand its service from older urban areas to newer developments such as Ma On Shan, Tseung Kwan O and Tin Shui Wai. 'For the longer term, the directors are seeking to develop bus service opportunities between Hong Kong and China,' said Mr Woo.