SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top 50 firms saw their operating income tumble more than 60 percent in 2019 from a year earlier due to weaker sales, data showed Thursday.
The 50 largest companies by revenue chalked up 87.7 trillion won (US$71.4 billion) in combined operating income last year, down 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Sustainable Growth Institute.
The nosedive came as Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc., which contribute considerably to their total earnings, took a big hit from falling semiconductor prices.
Total sales of the leading companies stood at 830.8 trillion won last year, down 4.3 percent from the previous year and marking the first decline in three years.
Of the total, 30 corporations suffered setbacks with sales of construction companies sinking nearly 20 percent from a year earlier.
Chip behemoth SK hynix posted the biggest decline with its revenue slumping 37.2 percent on-year to 25.3 trillion won.
In contrast, builder HDC Hyundai Development Co. saw its sales surge about 51 percent to 4.2 trillion won, newly making the top 50 list. Other new entrants included Hotel Shilla and LG Household & Health Care Ltd.
But three companies -- Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co., SK Gas Co. and Doosan Heavy & Construction Co. -- were excluded from the list last year.
Top-cap Samsung Electronics, No. 1 automaker Hyundai Motor Co., electronics giant LG Electronics Inc. and five other companies have remained on the list since 1984.
The institute expected those top companies to embark on restructuring and cost-cutting efforts due to sinking earnings and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Moon's post-corona presidency laden with tough tasks
S. Korea shifts toward new normal of everyday quarantine but wary of 'blind spots'
Anti-Tada bill a major setback for Korea's innovation drive
Driven into corner by virus, S. Korean economy gets strong medicine
Retail giants undergoing painful restructuring amid earnings shock