S. Korea's corporate profitability hits record low in 2012

SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean corporate profitability deteriorated to a record low in 2012 as the global economic slowdown sharply dented sales growth, the central bank said Sunday.

The average ratio of pre-tax net profit to sales, a key barometer of profitability, came in at 3.4 percent in 2012, the lowest since the Bank of Korea (BOK) began compiling related data in 2009.

The central bank surveyed 464,000 companies.

The comparable figure for 2009 was 3.9 percent but rose to 4.9 percent in 2010. But the ratio fell again to 3.7 percent in 2011.

Sales grew 5.1 percent on-year in 2012, more than halving from a 12.1 percent gain in the previous year.

The economic slowdown hurt local companies' revenues, it added.

The South Korean economy grew 2 percent last year, the slowest gain in three years as the eurozone debt crisis and the subsequent global downturn hurt Seoul's exports.

The central bank said their debt ratio fell slightly last year, however, as they benefited from low borrowing costs.

Their average debt to equity ratio, a barometer of corporate indebtedness, stood at 147.6 percent last year, down from 152.7 percent a year earlier, it said.

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