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Posco’s operating profit down 30% in 2019 amid industry downturn


South Korean steel giant Posco said Friday its operating profit dropped 30.2 percent in 2019 from the previous year, amid the overall industry downturn and protectionism by major trading partners.

The steelmaker said its revenue stood at 64.3 trillion won ($53.9 billion), down 0.9 percent on-year. The operating profit posted at 3.86 trillion won, while net profit was 1.98 trillion won last year. The operating margin recorded 6 percent.

Its sales volume increased by 400,000 tons on-year to record 35.9 million tons in 2019. The company managed to surpass the 10 million-ton mark in sales volume of high-end steel products dubbed as “World Top Premium.”

The sluggish performance in revenue, however, was largely influenced by the struggling global economy and decline in demand, as well as protective trade policies of major trading partners, the company said in a statement.

The steelmaker also failed to reflect in its product price the increased material costs, which negatively affected its profitability. The price of iron ore surged over 30 percent last year.

The company said it was able to minimize the decrease in the overall operating profit, with its relatively high profit earned from the gas business operation by its trading arm Posco International and expansion of the liquefied natural gas business by Posco Energy.

The company highlighted that it still maintains financial soundness, with the debt-equity ratio falling 1.9 percentage points to 65.4 percent in 2019, the lowest since 2010.

For 2020, Posco said it has set the sales target at 63.8 trillion won by selling 35 million metric tons of products.

The company expects the price of steel products to rebound globally, with the US and China recently signing a “phase one” trade deal.

By Jo He-rim (