Seoul, Apr 2 (IANS): The first-quarter earnings outlook for South Korea's major companies, including the world's leading chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, remained grim mainly due to sluggish global demand, an analysis of industry data showed on Sunday.
According to securities firms' forecasts compiled by Yonhap Infomax, Samsung Electronics is projected to have posted an operating profit of 720 billion won ($549.7 million) during the first three months of the year.
It marks a 94.9 per cent drop from its first-quarter result of 14.1 trillion won from a year ago.
Samsung's sales in the January-March period are forecast to have fallen 17.3 per cent on-year to 64.3 trillion won.
SK hynix will also highly likely remain in the red for two quarters in a row.
The company seems to have recorded an operating loss of 3.8 trillion won for the first quarter, with its sales having plunged 60.1 per cent on-year to 4.9 trillion won.
The whopping decreases in earnings were apparently attributable to waning global demand for memory chips amid the economic slowdown.
The Yonhap Infomax analysis also predicted declines in the first-quarter profits of key South Korean petrochemical firms and steelmakers.
LG Chem, a leading chemical producer in South Korea, is expected to announce an operating profit of 535.5 billion won, down 47.7 percent from a year earlier.
Kumho Petro Chemical's first-quarter operating profit is estimated to have nosedived 81.8 per cent on-year to 81.9 billion won.
POSCO Holdings, the country's biggest steelmaker, is forecast to report a 72 per cent drop on-year to 632 billion won.
However, carmakers and battery manufacturers appear to have fared relatively well in the first quarter on the back of the fast-growing electric vehicle market.
Hyundai Motor and Kia are forecast to have recorded operating profits of 2.8 trillion won and 2.1 trillion won, respectively, during the January-March period, up 44 per cent and 32.4 per cent from a year earlier.
LG Energy Solution, the country's largest battery maker, is likely to have earned 499.1 billion won in operating profit for the first quarter, nearly doubling from the previous year's 258.9 billion won.