ANGLO-Norwegian shipbuilder Ugland International said first-half pre-tax profit was GBP1.28 million (about HK$15.67 million), against a loss of GBP780,000 in the same period last year. Sales rose to GBP18.82 million in the six months to September, from only GBP4,000 last year. Ugland said that a change of management at the end of last year, a number of acquisitions and a rights issue, had transformed the firm. It announced a half-year dividend of 1.65 pence. None was paid last year. Earnings per share were 4.13 pence in the first half, from a loss per share of 6.96 pence last year. 'I believe the prospects for the group are good with significant opportunities for expansion through selective corporate and vessel acquisitions,' said chairman and Chief Executive Andreas Ugland. The firm's ship-management operation performed in line with expectations, although swollen costs at its ship repair business, Swansea Dry Docks, produced lower-than-expected results. 'Current trading is slightly above the levels achieved in the first six months,' Mr Ugland said. 'On the ship management side, Ugland Brothers' short-term profitability is being adversely affected by the loss of management contracts due to vessel sales by clients.' But this had been partly offset by improvements in the dry-dock business.