(LEAD) Coupang Q4 net jumps on increased subscribers, shifts to annual profit

South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net profit more than doubled from a year earlier and it shifted to an annual profit for the first time since its foundation on increased subscribers and growth in new businesses. Net profit for the three months ended in December jumped to 180.7 billion won (US$137 million) from 84.2 billion won in the same period of 2022, the company said in a statement. Coupang's paid "WOW" membership, which has a monthly fee of 4,990 won ($3.70), increased 27 percent on-year to 14 million in 2023, and new businesses, such as streaming platform Coupang Play and food delivery service Coupang Eats, helped attract more subscribers, it said. The number of customers who purchased from the Coupang platform at least once a quarter rose 16 percent on-year to 21 million last year, the company said. In particular, Coupang's sports streaming made more customers join the paid WOW membership. Last year, Coupang Play attracted about three million viewers fo r two Tottenham Hotspur Football Club matches, featuring Korean footballer Son Heung-min. In its global expansion strategy, Coupang advanced into Taiwan in October 2022 with its "rocket delivery" and "rocket direct purchase" services, which has been accepted well among local consumers. The company plans to build its third logistics center in Taiwan in the first half of this year to help more Korean companies sell their products in the country. Coupang, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, also reported a 52 percent jump in operating profit to 171.5 billion won in the fourth quarter from 113 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 19 percent to 8.65 trillion won from 7.24 trillion won during the same period. For all of 2023, Coupang made a stellar performance, shifting to a net profit of 1.77 trillion won from a net loss of 171.8 billion won a year ago. It also swung to an operating profit of 617.4 billion won last year from an operating loss of 144.7 billion won the previous year. It is the first time for Coupang to post an annual net profit and operating profit since it began operations in 2010. Sales rose 19.7 percent to a record 31.83 trillion won from 26.59 trillion won. Source: Yonhap News Agency