SEOUL, April 14 (Korea Bizwire) — Major South Korean companies’ spending on research and development (R&D) climbed nearly 8 percent in 2019 despite weaker performances, a market tracker said Tuesday.
Combined R&D expenditures by 208 out of the top 500 companies by sales came to 53.5 trillion won (US$43.9 billion) last year, up 7.8 percent from a year earlier, according to CEO Score.
The solid increase was seen as part of their efforts to secure future growth engines despite slackening sales and operating income.
The companies registered 1,723.4 trillion won in combined revenue last year, down 0.8 percent from the previous year, with their total operating income tumbling 41 percent to 86.7 trillion won.
Their total R&D spending accounted for 3.13 percent of sales in 2019, up 0.25 percentage point from a year earlier.
Major pharmaceutical firm Celltrion Inc. ranked at the top among the businesses in terms of the R&D-to-sales ratio with 26.9 percent.
Naver Corp., the country’s largest internet portal operator, came next with 26 percent, trailed by mobile game developer Netmarble Corp. with 21.1 percent.
Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest smartphone and memory chipmaker, was the top R&D spender with 20.2 trillion won last year, but its R&D-to-sales ratio ranked 15th with 8.8 percent.
Comparable figures were 4.03 trillion won (6.5 percent) for home appliances giant LG Electronics Inc., 3.2 trillion won (11.8 percent) for chip behemoth SK hynix Inc. and 3.04 trillion won (2.9 percent) for top automaker Hyundai Motor Co.