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(2nd LD) LG Electronics Q4 loss widens on equity ties, mobile biz slump

All News 17:20 January 30, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 2 paras; photo)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- LG Electronics Inc. said Thursday its fourth-quarter deficit widened due to losses in its equity ties with a display-making affiliate, while its mobile business remained in the red.

The tech giant said it logged a net loss of 849.8 billion won (US$717 million) in the October-December period, compared with an 80.7 billion-won net loss a year earlier.

The company's operating profit increased 34.5 percent on-year to 101.8 billion won in the fourth quarter, but this was an 87 percent drop compared to the previous quarter. Sales rose 1.8 percent on-year to 16 trillion won in the last three months of 2019.

For the whole of 2019, LG Electronics' net income tumbled 87.8 percent on-year to 179.9 billion won. Operating profit dropped 9.9 percent on-year to 2.4 trillion won, but sales inched up 1.6 percent on-year to a record 62.3 trillion won.

This file photo shows LG Electronics Inc.'s corporate flag at the company's headquarters building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

LG Electronics said its equity ties with LG Display Co. hurt its bottom line. The company holds a 37.9 percent stake in the world's leading OLED panel maker.

LG Display, which is scheduled to announce its fourth-quarter earnings on Friday, has been suffering from falling LCD panel prices. Analysts here expect LG Display to suffer more than 1 trillion won in losses in 2019.

Aside from equity losses, LG Electronics saw its mobile business extend a slump to 19 consecutive quarterly losses.

LG Electronics' mobile business unit posted 332.2 billion won in operating loss in the fourth quarter, widening from a loss of 318.5 billion won a year earlier. The unit's sales plunged 21.2 percent on-year to 1.3 trillion won.

For all of 2019, its mobile business had sales of 5.9 trillion won, down from 7.9 trillion won in 2018, while operating loss was tallied at 1.01 trillion won, also widening from 789 billion won in 2018.

Analysts here predict that LG Electronics shipped only 29 million smartphones in 2019, down 28 percent from a year earlier.

"Sluggish sales of mass-tier smartphones in overseas markets, increased marketing expenses and retail inventory adjustments led to operating loss in the mobile business," the company said.

This photo provided by LG Electronics Inc. shows the company's V50 ThinQ dual-screen smartphone. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

LG Electronics also continued to suffer from its vehicle component solutions (VS) business.

In the fourth quarter, the company's VS unit logged an operating loss of 63.7 billion won, sharply widening from a loss of 27.4 billion won reported a year earlier due to slower global automobile sales. Sales at the business unit also dipped 3.1 percent on-year to 1.3 trillion won.

The company's home entertainment business unit, which manages TV products, logged 4.59 trillion won in sales during the fourth quarter, relatively unchanged from a year earlier, but operating profit was nearly halved to 110 billion won over the cited period due to increased marketing costs.

LG Electronics' home appliance and air solution (HA) business division, however, posted a solid result.

The home appliance unit had its best-ever fourth-quarter sales at 4.62 trillion won, up 7 percent from a year earlier, while its operating income jumped 8.5 percent on-year to 122.2 billion won.

For the whole year of 2019, the HA business raked in a record 1.9 trillion won in operating profit, thanks to solid sales of its premium home appliances, such as LG Signature.

This photo provided by LG Electronics Inc. shows the company's OLED 8K TVs at Consumer Electronics Show 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This year, the company said it aims to sell more premium products like OLED TVs, adding that it plans to launch a rollable TV in the first half of the year.

Shares in LG Electronics closed unchanged at 67,200 won on the Seoul bourse. The earnings results were released before the market closed.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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