SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Korea Bizwire) — Global chip supplier Samsung Electronics Co. was the most favored stock by foreign investors this year, while Hyundai Motor Co. was the target of a foreign selling binge, data showed Tuesday.
Offshore investors, who were net sellers in 2018, net bought 1 trillion won (US$836.9 million) worth of local shares this year, according to the data compiled by the Korea Exchange (KRX), the main bourse operator.
In the Jan. 2-Dec. 30 period, they net bought 3.87 trillion won worth of Samsung Electronics shares, the largest sum among local companies.
South Korea’s second-largest chipmaker, SK hynix, came next, with net foreign buying of 1.31 trillion won.
Foreign investors scooped up local chipmakers on hopes for a rebound in global chip prices, along with spreading optimism for further progress in the Sino-American trade tussle, although their business performance was generally lackluster in the face of a sharp decline in chip prices.
In the July-September period, Samsung Electronics saw its operating profit fall 55.7 percent on-year to 7.8 trillion won.
SK hynix also suffered a nose-diving 93 percent on-year drop in its operating profit to 472.6 billion won in the three-month period, its lowest since the second quarter of 2016.
Kakao Corp. was the third-most popular pick by foreign investors as they snatched up 863.3 billion won worth of Kakao stocks.
The operator of Kakao Talk, South Korea’s largest messaging app, was favored by foreigners on expectations of a rosy earnings outlook, particularly for its mobile ad services and other platform businesses.
Kakao’s July-September net profit skyrocketed nearly six times higher on-year to 51.1 billion won, with a 93 percent hike in operating income to 27.7 billion won.
In contrast, foreigners offloaded shares that are susceptible to a lengthy trade row between the United States and China.
They net sold some 1.46 trillion won worth of Hyundai Motor stocks, the largest sell-off amount among others.
Uncertainties from Beijing’s trade dispute with Washington made investors cautious in betting on the country’s leading automaker.
The U.S. tariffs on automobile and auto part imports still remain as a potential major drag on performance in the upcoming year.
But buoyed by increased sales of SUVs and other sedans, Hyundai Motor’s operating profit climbed 31 percent to 378.5 billion won in the third quarter from 288.9 billion won a year ago.
The company’s net profit also rose 51 percent to 460.5 billion won over the same period.
Domestic-focused stocks, such as a telecom operator, suffered massive foreign selling.
Foreign investors sold off 911 billion won worth of top mobile carrier SK Telecom stocks, followed by tobacco maker KT&G Corp. at 749.2 billion won.