SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- The net profits of South Korean firms listed on the country's main stock exchange more than halved last year, the bourse operator said Wednesday.
The combined net profit of 583 KOSPI-listed companies, excluding financial firms, came to 52.42 trillion won (US$42.5 billion) in 2019 on a consolidated basis, down 52.82 percent from a year ago, according to the Korea Exchange (KRX).
The combined annual sales rose 0.47 percent on-year to stand at 2,006.45 trillion won in 2019, but operating profits plunged 37.04 percent to 102.28 trillion won, it added.
The results may be attributable to the trade war between the United States and China last year, analysts said, coupled with a slump in the semiconductor industry that has been a major revenue source for large companies, like Samsung Electronics Co.
"Global trade struggled following the prolonged dispute between the United States and China," Cho Seung-bin, an analyst at Daishin Securities, said. "As South Korea's exports declined, major listed firms also suffered."
Top cap Samsung Electronics saw its net profit tumble 50.98 percent on-year to 21.7 trillion won last year, while No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc. reported a whopping 87.02 percent decline in net profit after posting only 2.1 trillion won in 2019.
Excluding Samsung Electronics, the listed firms posted 30.7 trillion won in net profit in 2019, down 54.04 percent from a year earlier, while their operating profits slid 28.02 percent on-year to 74.2 trillion won, the data showed.
The KRX said 416 firms, or 71.36 percent of the total, were in the black last year, while the remainder posted net losses. It added that a total of 72 firms swung to the red last year.
Companies in the textile, construction, transportation, machinery, steel and pharmaceutical industries saw increases in their net profits last year, according to the data.
The secondary KOSDAQ-listed firms had relatively better performances last year, according to the KRX.
The combined net profit of 946 KOSDAQ-listed companies, excluding financial firms, decreased 10.47 percent on-year to 4.1 trillion won in 2019. However, their operating profits rose 4.63 percent on-year to 9.2 trillion won, while their sales increased 8.39 percent on-year to 181.5 trillion won last year.
The KRX data showed that 597 firms, or 63.11 percent of the total, on the KOSDAQ bourse were in the black last year.
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