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According to Yonhap News,
(SEOUL=Yonhap News) South Korean companies' sales expanded at the fastest pace in four years in 2017 thanks to brisk performances by chips and petrochemical firms, a central bank report said Monday.
The combined sales of nonfinancial firms in the country grew 9.9 percent in 2017, up sharply from a 1.1 percent gain in the previous year, according to the report from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
It marked the largest on-year growth since 2013, when the central bank started to compile such data.
Their operating profit to sales ratio also reached a four-year high of 7.4 percent last year, accelerating from 6.2 percent a year earlier, while their debt ratio dropped to 92.3 percent from 98.2 percent over the cited period.
Manufacturing companies saw their sales expand 9.8 percent on-year in 2017, turning around from a 1.4 percent drop in 2016 and a 4.2 percent fall in 2015. Their operating profit rate also widened to 8.4 percent last year from 6.5 percent.
The sales tally for nonmanufacturing companies built up to 9.9 percent last year from the previous year's 4.4 percent, with their operating profit rate hitting 5.9 percent.
"Exports of key items like semiconductors and petrochemical goods rose sharply last year, so overall corporate performances improved," a BOK official said. "Also, the construction sector experienced a boom in the real estate market."
Sales in the machinery and electronics sector jumped 18.6 percent on-year, and those of petrochemcials soared 14.5 percent over the cited period. In particular, the combined sales of Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc., the two biggest chipmakers, accounted for 13.3 percent of the total sales of the country's manufacturing industry.
On the other hand, the food and accommodation businesses saw their sales growth slow down to 4.84 percent on-year last year from 7.94 percent a year earlier due to a sharp drop in Chinese tourists.
The number of Chinese visitors to South Korea plunged nearly 50 percent in 2017 from a year earlier as the Beijing government imposed a ban on group tour packages heading to the neighboring country in retaliation for Seoul's deployment of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD.
The sector swung to a net loss of 799.3 billion won (US$744.1 million) last year from a net profit of 250.7 billion won, with its debt ratio expanding to 130.5 percent from 118.8 percent.
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Source: Yonhap News (May 28, 2018)