Securities firms operating in South Korea saw their first-quarter earnings surge 74.7 percent from a year earlier, helped by increased commissions and investment profits, the financial regulator said Tuesday. The combined net profit of 62 local and foreign securities firms operating here came to 793.2 billion won (US$736.1 million) in the April-June period, compared with 454 billion won a year ago, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). They closed their books on March 31. The stronger bottom line came on the heels of a rise in bond-related income and brokerage fee profit, the FSS said. The average return on equity, which shows how efficiently a company used investment funds to generate earnings growth, gained 0.8 percentage points on-year to 2.1 percent. Among the tallied 62 firms, 53 players reaped profits, but the remaining nine firms ended in red. Hyundai Securities Co. was the most profitable player with a net profit of 93.9 billion won, followed by Samsung Securities Co. with 84.6 billion won and Korea Investment & Securities Co. with 72.6 billion won, according to the FSS. In contrast, Standard Chartered Securities Korea Ltd. posted a net loss of 4.6 billion and IBK Investment & Securities Co. came next with a loss of 3.3 billion won. The 62 securities companies include 42 domestic firms, as well as eight subsidiaries and 12 branches of overseas players.