By Jhoo Dong-chan
Market analysts have lowered listed firms' earnings forecasts for the first quarter reflecting their disappointing sales in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The downgrade is attributed to possible aftereffects from the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China, and following a decline in global trade volume.
Of the nation's 135 listed firms with a regular quarterly outlook released by more than three domestic brokerages, the first-quarter earnings outlook for 77 were recently lowered, market researcher FnGuide said Thursday.
Samsung Electronics, which posted record high earnings twice last year, posted a disappointing operating profit of 10.8 trillion won ($9.65 billion) in the fourth quarter.
In December, domestic brokerages forecast the world's largest chipmaker would post a 14.42 trillion won operating profit during the January-March period, but sharply lowered their outlook this month due to its earning shock.
Reflecting its disappointing earnings last quarter, Samsung is now forecast to achieve an 11.64 trillion won operating profit in the first quarter, down 25.3 percent from its earnings in the first quarter of last year.
The company posted a 15.64 trillion won operating profit in the first quarter of last year.
Securities firms also lowered their earnings outlook for SK hynix in the first quarter. They had forecast the chipmaker would post 4.71 trillion in operating profit, but recently cut their prognosis to 3.74 trillion won.
The figure is also down 14.4 percent from the firm's operating profit of 4.36 trillion in the first quarter of last year.
"The industry peaked during the third quarter of 2018 and already passed its super-cycle period," said Meritz Securities analyst Kim Sun-woo.
The nation's refiners are also expected to post disappointing earnings in the first quarter due to falling oil prices.
SK Innovation is forecast to earn an operating profit of 616.6 billion won, down 20.7 percent from its previous outlook released last month.
The refiner posted a 4.36 trillion won operating profit in the first quarter of last year, but deteriorating refining margins along with downtrend in oil prices dragged down the quarterly earnings forecast.