South Korean firms’ interim dividends surge

High yield: People walk past the Samsung flagship store in Seoul. The company’s half-year dividend was up 333% from a year ago. — AFP

SEOUL: South Korean listed companies’ half-year dividends surged to a record high this year as their businesses posted strong performance, market data showed Sunday, Yonhap reported.

A total of 62 local listed firms paid out 4.39 trillion won (US$3.75bil or RM15.52bil) in interim dividends in June, up 66.9% from a year earlier, according to the data from market tracker FnGuide.

It marked the first time that listed companies’ half-year dividends surpassed the four-trillion-won mark.

Half-year dividends from South Korean firms reached 3.18 trillion won (RM11.24bil) in 2018 and expanded to 3.35 trillion won (RM11.84bil) in 2019 but tumbled to 2.62 trillion won (RM9.26bil) last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of interim dividend-paying firms also increased to 62 from 47 a year earlier.

South Korea’s top cap, Samsung Electronics Co, paid out 2.15 trillion won (RM7.6bil) to account for nearly half of the total half-year dividends.

Excluding Samsung Electronics, local firms’ half-year dividends reached 2.23 trillion won (RM7.88bil), up 333% from a year ago.

Ten firms have paid out at least 100 billion won (RM353.64mil) as interim dividends this year, up from two companies in 2020 and five companies in 2019, as they improved their earnings.

Top steelmaker Posco’s interim dividends more than doubled from a year earlier to reach 302.5 billion won (RM1.07bil).

The country’s leading automaker Hyundai Motor Co, which skipped half-year payments last year, paid out 200.5 billion won (RM709.05mil).

South Korea’s four major financial holding firms – Hana, KB, Shinhan and Woori – also contributed to the increase in half-year dividends. Hana paid out half-year dividends of 40% more from a year earlier.

KB, Shinhan and Woori, meanwhile, made their first interim dividend payments this year. Among listed firms on the secondary Kosdaq market, biotech firm Seegene Inc was the top interim dividend-paying firm with 20.7 billion won (RM73.2mil). ― The Korea Herald/ANN

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