China Overseas Land's Q1 operating profit rises to $1 bln

HONG KONG, April 21 (Reuters) - State-owned property

developer China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd said on

Friday its operating profit in the first quarter rose to HK$7.8

billion ($1 billion).

Operating profit for the Jan-March period a year earlier was

HK$7.1 billion, before restating for CITIC Ltd's

residential property business acquired last year.

Unaudited revenue was HK$27.4 billion for the first quarter

of this year, compared with HK$24.7 a year earlier, before

restating.

Due to an acquisition of 15 land parcels during the

three-month period, the company's cash on hand dropped 13.3

percent to HK$136.18 billion from the end of 2016, it said in a

statement.

That resulted in an increase in net gearing ratio to 13.3

percent, which was still well below industry average.

Referring to the increased property tightening policies by

the central government, China Overseas Land said the policies

were "beneficial to the long term healthy development of the

industry and will lead to market consolidation in an accelerated

manner".

"It is expected that the China property sector can maintain

steady development in 2017," the company added.

Home prices in China accelerated in March on a monthly basis

with a 0.6 percent rise from February, shaking off the impact of

recent cooling measures introduced to dampen speculative demand.

Shares of China Overseas Land closed down 0.7 percent ahead

of the results. Hang Seng Index was flat.

Company chairman Xiao Xiao said last month he was cautiously

optimistic about China's overall property market in 2017, which

was expected to see some resistance in sales in the first half.

($1 = 7.7757 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)