SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) — Four in 10 major listed firms in South Korea pulled off earnings surprises in the first quarter of this year despite the coronavirus pandemic, market data said Monday.

Fourteen out of the 35 companies listed on the country’s main and secondary stock markets posted first-quarter operating income that were more than 10 percent higher than market consensuses, according to the data from Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency.

The firms covered the ones that unveiled first-quarter results as of Friday, with brokerage estimates available.

The data also showed 21 businesses, 61 percent of the total, saw their first-quarter operating income overshooting market estimates.

Chip giant SK hynix Inc. recorded the biggest surprise with operating income of slightly over 800 billion won (US$648 million) in the January-March period, which was a whopping 58 percent larger than the market consensus of 507 billion won.

Top-cap and global tech behemoth Samsung Electronics Co. also outperformed the market consensus by chalking up 6.4 trillion own in first-quarter operating profit, up 3.8 percent from the median market estimate.

World No. 1 memory chip maker Samsung and its smaller rival SK hynix had been feared to fare poorly in the first quarter due to slumping demand stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.’

However, the two semiconductor titans performed better than expected as rising chip prices more than offset the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, according to Yonhap Infomax.

Instead of taking a hit, some companies rather benefited from COVID-19 that has sparked lockdowns, factory shutdowns and worries over a looming global recession.

First-quarter operating income of building materials maker LG Hausys was 54 percent higher than the market consensus on falling prices of raw materials due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LG Household & Health Care’s operating income was nearly 19 percent larger than the market estimate thanks to strong sales of sanitizers and other personal hygiene items.

South Korea’s top internet portal operator Naver Corp. also saw its first-quarter operating income overshooting the market estimate by about 14 percent, helped by increased online shopping on its platform amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

Some market watchers, however, said the companies’ better-than-expected earnings should be taken with a grain of salt as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has yet to fully bite.

Concerns remain over first-half corporate results as the novel coronavirus outbreak is strongly tipped to persist until at least the end of the first half of this year, they added.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives globally with infections nearing 3 million, has wreaked havoc on economies across the globe by sending consumer spending into a free fall.