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(LEAD) AmorePacific sinks on sales slump, THAAD woes

All Headlines 15:34 February 09, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES figures in para 2)

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- AmorePacific Co., South Korea's top cosmetics maker, traded at a 52-week low on Thursday as investors were disappointed with the domestic sales slump amid growing concerns that the planned deployment of a U.S. missile defense system to South Korea will further batter sales in China, its largest overseas market.

AmorePacific stocks closed at 281,000 won (US$247) on the Seoul bourse, down 0.18 percent from the previous session's close. On Wednesday, it dipped to an almost two-year low, weighed by foreign and institutional sell-offs.

Its stock price hovered around 450,000 won last year, but faced a pullback after Seoul decided to install the U.S. missile defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD, on its soil. The missile intercept system is designed to defend against North Korea's evolving missile capabilities, but China has vehemently protested the decision, saying it would compromise Beijing's national interests in the region.

Also, last week's weaker than expected earnings report worked to drag the price down.

AmorePacific reported a 17.2-percent on-year drop in its fourth-quarter operating income, while sales increased 7.4 percent to 1.32 trillion won over the cited period, which fell short of market expectations.

The weaker than expected bottom line came as domestic sales were hit by the implementation of the anti-graft law, a drawn-out slump in domestic demand and increased marketing costs.

"AmorePacific may face a low growth trend in the domestic market for the time being," said Han Kuk-hee, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

Local brokerage firms slashed their target price for AmorePacific citing a slump in domestic sales and the lingering THAAD row. NH Investment lowered its target price for the cosmetics maker to 350,000 won from 420,000 won, and Shinhan Investment Corp. also trimmed its price target to 370,000 won from 400,000 won.

"China-linked stocks such as AmorePacific may rebound slightly, but they are stuck in a boxed range, due to lingering THAAD woes," said Lee Jong-woo, an analyst at IBK Investment & Securities.

(LEAD) AmorePacific sinks on sales slump, THAAD woes - 1

sam@yna.co.kr
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