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SAIC drives up earnings
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SAIC Motor Co Ltd, the listed unit of China's largest auto maker Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, said its net profit soared more than 240 percent last year on higher auto sales and the purchase of major assets from its parent.

SAIC Motor earned 4.63 billion yuan (US$659.5 million) by the end of last year, the car maker said in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday. It had earlier forecast a net profit of 4.26 billion yuan, more than tripled from 1.42 billion yuan in 2006.

Total sales revenue jumped more than four times to 104.4 billion yuan during the same period, the statement added.

"The car maker is on track for fast expansion,'' said Yang Huachao, an auto analyst at Everbright Securities Co Ltd. "Profit could be higher if not for the cost for developing its own brand vehicles.''

The car maker's profit received a boost after it sold additional shares to the parent company in 2006 as part of SAIC's back-door listing program. This helped it to acquire major assets from SAIC, including stakes in ventures with General Motors Corp and Volkswagen AG, boosting its total assets to 101.8 billion yuan by the end of last year.

The car maker also pumped in more efforts in research and development of its self-branded models.

SAIC said it sold 1.69 million vehicles last year, an increase of 26 percent from a year earlier, maintaining its position as the nation's biggest auto maker. The buoyant sales included 1.14 million passenger cars which grew 24 percent and a 29-percent climb in commercial vehicles sales of 553,000 units.

The company targets to sell 1.9 million vehicles this year and eyes a turnover of 119.1 billion yuan and production costs of 102.4 billion yuan.

Shares of SAIC Motor lost 6.03 percent to 13.88 yuan yesterday.

(Shanghai Daily March 28, 2008)

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