One out of 10 leading companies did not make enough profits last year to be able to cover interest on loans, a corporate analysis indicated Wednesday.
The analysis by CEO Score, which follows financial details of conglomerates, showed that among 357 companies checked in the study, 39 had an interest coverage ratio (ICR) of under one. ICR is calculated by dividing a company's operating profit by its interest expenses and serves as a measure of how well a firm can meet its interest burdens. A ratio lower than one means that the company's soundness is questionable. A firm showing three consecutive years of such a ratio is categorized as a zombie company.
Twenty-seven of the analyzed firms fell to negative ratios due to operating losses last year, including Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung SDI, Daewoo Engineering & Construction and POSCO Engineering & Construction. Doosan Engineering & Construction and 11 other companies showed a ratio of under one (0.13) despite ending in black in operational profit.
Fourteen companies were categorized as zombie companies, with four of them in the shipping industry: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. and STX Heavy Industries.
IT-related companies were in the best condition in terms of the ratio, averaging 21.1. The automotive sector stood at 15.3, petrochemical at 12.3 and services at 12.1.
Yuhan Kimberly had the highest ratio of 2.28 million. Companies like it either had interest expenses of under 10 million won ($8,788) or none at all.
"Compared with two years ago, the number of under-1 companies fell by 27, while the average ratio rose 2.7 points to 4.6," CEO Score said. "This means that corporate management has generally improved, but part of the improvement appears to be from companies shunning new investments or businesses." (Yonhap)