An analysis by market researcher Korea CXO Institute showed that the combined operating profit of 1,000 listed firms came in at 111.5 trillion won ($94.4 billion won) last year. The figure was up 4.2 percent from 2017 and 53.1 percent from 2016.
Of them, however, 597 companies recorded a lower operating profit or loss, meaning the overall performance was narrowly led by a handful of firms. A total of 164 companies recorded an operating loss -- 46 companies or about 39 percent more compared to 2017.
Also, companies in the so-called “1 trillion won club” -- in terms of annual operating profit -- continued to decrease, the institute said.
Based on the annual performance, 15 listed companies were part of the club in 2016, but the number decreased to 14 in 2016 and 11 last year.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics accounted for 39.2 percent of the entire operating profit of listed firms last year, up from 32.6 percent in 2017 and 18.7 percent in 2016.
|Samsung Electronics (Yonhap)|
“When you look at the overall operating profit of these firms, it may look like their performance has improved. But in fact, the number of companies that are in the black or with less surplus from the previous year outnumbers those with higher operating profit by 200,” the institute pointed out.
On a brighter note, there were 42 companies that saw their operating profit grow by 30 percent or more for two consecutive years. Of them five, including SK hynix, even saw their revenue grow by 30 percent or more.
“Influenced by the weakened semiconductor market this year, there is a possibility that the number of companies with improving annual performance will continue to reduce,” said the institute.
The memory chip industry has been driving the otherwise weakening Korean economy, accounting for more than 21 percent of entire exports.
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org)