SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) — South Korean companies saw their profitability continue their growth in 2020, but their sales declined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, central bank data showed Thursday.

The ratio of operating profit to sales of non-financial firms in the country reached 5.1 percent last year, up from 4.8 percent tallied a year ago, according to the data by the Bank of Korea (BOK).

At the same time, the pretax net profit margin of South Korean companies rose on-year to 4.3 percent from 4.1 percent.

But their sales fell 3.2 percent on-year in 2020, compared with a 1 percent decline in 2019.

By sector, manufacturing firms posted a 3.2 percent on-year contraction in sales last year, while their ratio of operating profit to sales widened to 4.9 percent.

Non-manufacturers’ sales fell 2.6 percent on-year in 2020, with their operating profit margin gaining 5.3 percent.

Despite the slowing growth in their sales, the financial health of local companies slightly improved from a year earlier in 2020, with their debt to equity ratio falling to 97.4 percent from 97.6 percent.

By sector, the average debt ratio of manufacturers rose to 65.5 percent from 63.8 percent, while that of non-manufacturing firms dropped to 146 percent from 150.5 percent.