Listed firms' net drop almost 7 % in 2012

South Korea's listed companies saw their earnings fall nearly 7 percent in 2012 from a year earlier amid the global economic slowdown, the bourse operator said Tuesday.

The combined net profit of 499 firms listed on the main bourse came to 65 trillion won (US$ 58.4 billion) on a consolidated basis last year, down 6.87 percent from 69.8 trillion won from 2011, according to data by the Korea Exchange (KRX).

Consolidated financial statements bring together all assets, liabilities and operating accounts of a parent company and its subsidiaries. The firms close their books on Dec. 31.

The firms' combined sales advanced 7.6 percent to reach 1,776 trillion won over the cited period, while their operating profit moved down 2 percent to 95.6 trillion won.

The on-year fall in net profit and operating income is mainly attributable to the sluggish recovery of the global economy, the KRX said.

The ratio of operating income to sales, a key gauge of corporate profitability, stood at 5.39 percent last year, compared with 5.91 percent tallied a year earlier.

The firms' combined assets came at 1,868 trillion won as of the end of 2012, up 4.9 percent from 2011. Their debts also advanced 3.36 percent to reach 1,050 trillion won.

Technology firms, carmakers, and oil refiners saw their profitability rise from a year earlier on the back of hefty exports. In contrast, chemical firms and steelmakers suffered a drop in their profitability.

Samsung Electronics Co., the world's top maker of smartphones, posted the largest net profit of 23.9 trillion won last year, up 73.3 percent from a year ago. Samsung's bottom line accounted for 36.8 percent of the listed firms' combined net profit.

Hyundai Motor Co., the country's No. 1 car maker, came second with a net profit of 9.5 trillion won, trailed by Kia Motor Corp. with 3.8 trillion won and Hyundai Mobis Co. with 3.5 trillion won.

SK Holdings Co., the holding firm of the country's third-largest conglomerate SK Group, came next with a net income of 2.6 trillion won, which represents a 48.5 percent tumble from a year earlier.

SK Holdings was followed by top steelmaker POSCO with 2.3 trillion won. Meanwhile, 607 firms listed on the country's tech-heavy KOSDAQ market saw their consolidated net profit plunge 20.09 percent on-year to 2.4 trillion won last year, the data added.

The companies listed on the secondary market saw their sales increase 8.82 percent on-year to 103.6 trillion won last year, while their operating profit shed 0.32 percent to 5.5 trillion won, according to the data.