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Korean firms' sales growth fall sharply in recent years

Sixteen Korean companies made it on the list of the world’s top 1,000 companies by market capitalization as of the end of March this year, led by Samsung Electronics in No. 28 spot, data showed Tuesday.

Samsung, which is by far Korea’s largest public company with a market value of 214.2 trillion won ($187 billion), climbed 17 notches in the global ranking from its 2010 standing, while cosmetics-maker Amore Pacific made an impressive debut at No. 571.

The list is compiled by Seoul-based Korea Economic Research Institute based on the stock prices at the end of March this year.

Other than Samsung and Amore Pacific, four of the 16 Korean firms saw their rankings rise from 2010. They are state-run electric utility firm Korea Electric Power Corp., chipmaker SK Hynix, Internet firm Naver and SK Group’s holding firm SK Holdings. Naver and SK Group are newcomers to the global top 1,000, along with Amore Pacific.

Nine others saw their rankings drop. At seven, the market cap actually shrank.

Steelmaker POSCO was the biggest loser, slipping to No. 841 from No. 278 in the 2010-2016 period. Its market value nearly halved from 35.5 trillion won in 2010 to 17.5 trillion won at the end of last month.

Hyundai Motor, the flagship unit of Hyundai Group, moved from No. 285 to No. 511 in the ranking, as it shed 9 trillion won in the market cap to 27.3 trillion won over the period.

A look at the Korean firms’ sales numbers reveals a more disturbing trend for Asia’s fourth-largest economy, which has long relied on a handful of corporate giants to drive growth.

Average revenue growth, which in 2010 was 18.41 percent, tumbled to 1.12 percent last year.

A company’s market value fluctuates depending on the conditions of the overall stock market. But slowing sales is a more direct sign of trouble, experts say.

“Korea’s major companies are seeing sales slowing in both domestic and overseas markets, while new corporate stars, like Amore Pacific and Naver, are not emerging,” said Kim Yun-kyeong, senior researcher at the think tank.

By Lee Sun-young (