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China's Country Garden beats forecasts despite 24% profit drop

Developer pays down debt while eyeing 'new opportunities'

SHANGHAI -- Country Garden Holdings, China's largest property developer by sales area, moved to separate itself from weaker peers on Wednesday by reporting annual profits well in excess of analyst expectations.

"In the past year, the property development sector underwent turbulences and upheavals, the property market cooled down, and the financial institutions' risk preference started to shrink," President Mo Bin said in the company's results announcement. "This has posed big challenges to all industry participants."

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