(LEAD) SK Innovation Q4 net losses narrow on lubricants business

SEOUL, SK Innovation Co., South Korea's leading refiner, said Tuesday its net losses narrowed in the fourth quarter from a year earlier on increased sales in its lubricants business and overseas oil development projects. Net losses for the three months ended in December decreased to 10.89 billion won (US$8.17 million) from 481.76 billion won during the same period of 2022, the company said in a statement. The company shifted to an operating profit of 72.62 billion won in the fourth quarter from an operating loss of 764.89 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 2 percent to 19.53 trillion won from 19.14 trillion won. For all of 2023, however, net income plunged 71 percent to 546.33 billion won from 1.89 trillion won the previous year due to lower refining margins and weak sales of electric vehicle batteries. Equity gains from SK On, its wholly owned car battery unit, were reflected in SK Innovation's annual results. "The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 pushed up oil prices and oil firms' refinin g margins. But last year, comparatively lower margins cut into the full-year bottom line," a company spokesperson said. The company expected demand for EV batteries to start recovering later this year as the Federal Reserve is expected to cut interest rates. Operating profit declined 51 percent to 1.9 trillion won from 3.92 trillion won during the same period. Sales fell 0.9 percent to 77.28 trillion won from 78.06 trillion won. SK Innovation owned a 89.52 percent in car battery unit SK On as of end-September. Source: Yonhap News Agency