Corporate earnings at large companies plunged in 2019

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Corporate earnings at large companies plunged in 2019

Major listed firms are estimated to have seen their earnings nearly halve last year in the face of uncertainties stemming from the U.S.-China trade row, a market tracker said Tuesday.

According to data compiled by Yonhap Infomax, a financial information provider, the combined operating profit of the 51 companies, which are also part of the Kospi 200 Index, is estimated to have fallen by 44.59 percent to 69 trillion won ($59.2 billion) in 2019 compared with the previous year’s 124.5 trillion won. The tally was based on a median market estimate by local brokerages.

The earnings slump last year is largely attributed to bad performance by two chipmakers - Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the global memory market in 2018. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix endured a tough year last year, as uncertainties from the protracted trade war between the world’s largest economies sapped global chip demand and caused a sharp decline in chip prices.

Samsung’s yearly operating profit in 2019 is estimated to have plummeted 53.95 percent to 27.1 trillion won, compared with the previous year’s 58.9 trillion won. SK Hynix is forecast to have suffered a nosedive of 85.93 percent to 2.93 trillion won in its operating income last year from the previous year’s 20.84 trillion won. Korea’s exports in 2019 fell 10.3 percent to $542.4 billion last year, compared with $604.8 billion posted a year earlier.

It marked the first time in 10 years for annual exports to drop by a two-digit percentage, according to the Trade Ministry.

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