Beijing - China's listed companies saw narrowing profits in the first quarter as the country's economy ran at the slowest pace since the third quarter of 2009, reports released by those companies showed.
As of Sunday, altogether 713 companies had disclosed their quarterly results. Of these, 385 posted year-on-year gains, 328 reported profit declines and 118 registered losses, according to information disclosure from the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.
Of the 566 companies that unveiled performance forecast for the January-March period, 222 predicted positive growth, 27 expected a swing to the gains while 150 said profits would decline, 149 forecast a turn to losses, reported Xinhua.
The general downward trend in their profitability came as China's economy expanded 8.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of decline.
A major feature that characterized listed companies's first-quarter performance was the contrast between rising revenues and dwindling profits.
Statistics showed gross revenue of the 713 companies grew at an average rate of 10.21 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, but net profits dropped 8.99 percent during the period.
While the release of quarterly results is drawing to a close, many companies had started
to publish interim forecasts.
As of Sunday, a total of 323 companies had disclosed interim forecasts, with 199 predicting gains, 71 declines and 47 losses, while 6 remained uncertain.
Based on current forecasts, it was still too early to jump to conclusions about the second-quarter prospects, but many analysts held that profits had bottomed out in the first quarter and interim results would generally improve on grounds that economic growth would rebound.
Shen Jianguang, chief economist of Mizuho Securities Asian Co. cited the pickup in the consumption and industrial production as possible signs of an improving economy.
China's retail sales, the major gauge of consumer spending, rose 15.2 percent year-on-year in March, up 0.5 percentage points from that registered in the first two months.
With the exception of jewels and cars, most goods enjoyed a sales recovery, he said.