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Big businesses in Korea see 50% surge in inventory

Headquarters of some conglomerates are seen in downtown Seoul. (Yonhap)
Headquarters of some conglomerates are seen in downtown Seoul. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- Big Korean businesses saw their inventory surge by about 50 percent in the first half on-year, sparking concerns that the piling products left unsold is maybe a sign that South Korea is entering a fog of economic uncertainty.

According to the corporate research institute Leaders Index, the inventory assets held by 192 conglomerates came to 147.6 trillion won ($110 billion) in the first half of the year, a 49.6 percent increase from 98.6 trillion won in the first half of 2021.

While businesses had increased purchases of raw materials in expectations of price spikes in the global market, lower-than-expected demand has brought about a situation in which inventory is piling up, market insiders say.

The stock was found to have increased most in the petrochemicals sector, with 26 businesses posting a total of 28.3 trillion won worth in inventory, up 71 percent on-year from 16.5 trillion won.

SK lubricants, a unit of SK innovation, posted a 170.3 percent surge in stock worth, up from 241.4 billion won to 652.3 billion won. A 98.2 percent increase was reported by SK innovation, 73.9 percent by GS Caltex and 72.6 percent by LG Chem.

A total of 11 steel producers including Posco and Hyundai Steel recorded a cumulative 14.1 trillion won worth in stock in the first half, up 66.2 percent on-year from 8.5 trillion won.

The information technology and electronics sector recorded a 60.8 percent increase to 50.4 trillion won.

The inventory held by Samsung Electronics and SK hynix surged by 68 percent and 160 percent, to 32.7 trillion won and 2.3 trillion won, respectively. The figure LG Energy Solution climbed by 78 percent to 4.04 trillion won.

The automobiles sector posted a relatively meager increase by 16.2 percent from 18.3 trillion won to 21.3 trillion won.

Among the 192 conglomerates surveyed, NCSoft topped the list with a 793 percent increase, followed by LIG Nex1 with 460 percent, Samsung Biologics with 318 percent, GS Engineering & Construction with 314 percent and Hansae with 193 percent.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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