SEOUL, June 14 (Yonhap) — Dividend payouts by listed firms in South Korea dropped in March from a year ago amid coronavirus uncertainties, with the upcoming June interim payouts also expected to decline, data showed Sunday.

A total of 18 listed companies paid a combined 2.68 trillion won (US$2.23 billion) to their shareholders for quarterly dividends this year, down 4.2 percent or 116.9 billion won from a year ago, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

The number of dividend-paying firms also fell by two from a year earlier.

March revenue was lower than market estimates amid the new coronavirus’ economic fallout, but the pandemic’s lingering uncertainties are expected to hurt the listed firms’ upcoming interim dividend payouts in June, industry sources said.

The payouts are expected to undergo a two-digit fall in June this year, a big fall from the combined 3.72 trillion won paid by 54 listed firms, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., a year earlier.

Most listed firms decided to skip or reduce their payouts in June. Samsung Electronics, whose dividend payouts took up 64.7 percent of the total last June, is an exception.

Top steelmaker POSCO, which paid the third-largest dividend payouts last June, said it will pay 1,500 won per share, down 25 percent on-year. Hyundai Motor, the second-largest payer, has not yet decided over the June dividend payout due to COVID-19.