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[Earnings roundup] 2020 best year for Naver, Samsung SDI

Naver's headquarters in Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi Province (Yonhap)
Naver's headquarters in Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi Province (Yonhap)

The Q4 earnings season peaked in South Korea with the undefeatable Samsung Electronics reporting Thursday. Already overshadowed by the IT giant, the country’s top internet operator Naver and battery maker Samsung SDI reported record-high business results in 2020. 


Naver reports record profits

Thanks to the contactless trend, Naver saws its total sales and operating profit hit new highs in 2020.

Revenue reached 5.3 trillion won in total, while operating profit climbed to 1.2 trillion won, up 21.8 percent and 5.2 percent from a year earlier, respectively.

In the fourth quarter alone, revenue advanced 28.3 percent on-year to 1.5 trillion won. The company’s operating profit during the same period went up 17.6 percent to 323.8 billion won, recording its highest-ever quarterly figure.
The company’s flagship search platform, which includes its advertisement business, reported growth of 11.3 percent on-year in fourth quarter sales at 770 billion won. The annual sales from the segment marked 5.6 percent growth to reach 2.8 trillion won.

Revenue from Naver’s commerce business in the October-December period grew 44.6 percent on-year to reach 316.8 billion won, while its annual revenue rose 37.6 percent to surpass 1 trillion won.

Sales of Naver’s fintech business expanded 67.8 percent on-year to mark 201.1 billion won of revenue during the three-month period. Annual sales for the fintech business went up 66.6 percent to reach a total of 677.5 billion won.

The company’s Q4 revenue from its intellectual property products, including those on the company’s webcomic platform Naver Webtoon, expanded 48.8 percent to 138.9 billion won. The annual revenue from the content business increased 48.8 percent to reach 460 billion won.



Samsung SDI logs record revenue battery boom

The Korean battery giant reported annual revenue of 11.29 trillion won, breaching the 11 trillion-won mark for the first time, an 11.9 percent spike on-year. In the same period, its operating profit surged 45.2 percent to 671.3 billion won.

The company’s energy division, which houses its battery business unit, propelled the stellar performance. The division’s revenue jumped 13.1 percent to 8.72 trillion won, while its operating profit exploded 334.8 percent to 241.3 billion won.

Samsung SDI also enjoyed record revenue in the fourth quarter of 3.25 trillion won, a 15.3 percent increase on-year, while operating profit enjoyed a whopping 1,124.9 percent jump to 246.2 billion won.

“EV batteries maintained a significant sales growth thanks to eco-friendly policies such as Europe increasing EV subsidies in the second half of last year, while energy storage systems saw a sales increase backed by mega ESS projects in North America,” a company official said.

This year the global electric vehicle battery market is expected to increase 80 percent from last year to 23.6 gigawatts, while the global ESS market is expected to grow 57 percent to 29.8 gigawatts, according to the company.



Samsung SDS slightly improves

Samsung SDS, Samsung Group’s IT service unit, posted slightly improved earnings in the fourth quarter, according to its regulatory filing Thursday.

The company announced that its sales in the fourth quarter increased 2.6 percent to 3 trillion won, while its operating profit soared 29.1 percent to 283 billion won.

Samsung SDS added that its annual sales in 2020 went up 2.8 percent to 11 trillion won and 871.6 billion won. The company’s operating profit for the whole of last year, however, fell 12 percent to 871.6 billion won from a year earlier.

The company’s IT service division’s Q4 sales reached 1.37 trillion won, up 3 percent from the previous quarter, backed by increasing demand for the company’s cloud services and enterprise resources planning solutions.

Revenue from the company’s Logistics Business Process Outsourcing unit increased 2.4 percent to 1.6 trillion won in the October-December period.

Samsung SDS said the company expects to turn in a better performance in 2021 as more local companies and state-led institutions begin their digital transformation initiatives, although uncertainties would remain throughout the year.



South Korean steelmakers struggle

Earnings of South Korean steelmakers Posco and Hyundai Steel shrank last year, as the pandemic took a toll on the overall demand from both home and abroad.

Posco’s revenue in last year decreased 10.2 percent at 57.7 trillion won, while its operating profit plunged 37.9 percent at 2.4 trillion won.

Posco last year was hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic, particularly during the first half of this year. The company’s operating profit in the second quarter, for instance, fell to the lowest level at 167.7 billion won.

The company’s operating profit in the second half, however, continued to recover. Its operating profit in the third quarter reached 666.7 billion won and expanded to 863.4 billion won in the last quarter.

Hyundai Steel’s annual revenue shrank 12.1 percent to 18.02 trillion won on-year, while its operating profits plunged 78 percent to 73 billion won, as the pandemic took a toll on the overall demand home and abroad.



By Shim Woo-hyun and Kim Byung-wook (ws@heraldcorp.com), (kbw@heraldcorp.com)
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