Revenue among South Korean companies fell for eight straight quarters through the first quarter of this year due to sluggish exports that had rattled the export-driven economy, central bank data showed on Thursday.
Combined corporate revenue reduced 2.0 percent in the January-March quarter compared with a year earlier, according to a Bank of Korea (BOK) survey of 3,065 domestic companies subject to external audit. It was the eighth consecutive quarter of reduction since the second quarter of 2014.
The continued fall came as South Korea's exports, which account for about half of the economy, kept a downward trend for the longest period of 17 months.
Low crude oil prices led to a decline in drill ship orders for shipbuilders and a fall in revenue for oil refiners and chemical companies, resulting in reduced revenue for shipping firms amid weak demand for transport. The country's major shipbuilders and shippers are being under the government-led restructuring process.
A fall in global trade, caused by global slowdown, dragged on revenue especially among domestic exporters. It boosted worries about the prolongation of low growth trend of the South Korean economy.
Revenue among manufacturers declined 3.3 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking the faster fall compared with a 0.2 percent reduction among non-manufacturers.
Cheaper crude oil, which was the main source of revenue fall, improved corporate profitability as it reduced energy costs. The ratio of operating profit to revenue was 5.6 percent in the first quarter, up 0.4 percentage points from a year ago.
South Korean currency's weakness to the U.S. dollar also contributed to the enhanced profitability. The won/dollar exchange rate averaged 1,200.9 won per dollar during the quarter, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier.
The ratio among manufacturers was higher at 6.1 percent than 5.0 percent for non-manufacturers.