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SK Biopharm’s market cap jumps amid bubble concerns


SK Biopharmaceuticals shares continued to soar on Tuesday, outpacing its parent company SK Holdings by market capitalization on the nation’s main bourse Kospi.

Shares of the bio unit of South Korean conglomerate SK Group began trading at 214,500 won ($179.85), then spiked by 51,500 won, up 24.01 percent, to reach 266,000 won in the first 10 minutes of trading. The stock was still on the rise but slightly fell to 216,500 won, at the closing bell.

Due to the stock rally, the firm’s market cap marked some 20.83 trillion won, becoming the 13th most-valued stock on Kospi in the early trading hours. As the market closed, the market cap slipped to the 17th most-valued stock on the main bourse.

As SK Biopharmaceuticals stocks have hit an all-time high since its market debut on Thursday, the nation’s bourse operator Korea Exchange (KRX) designated the bio unit as a cautious stock item to warn enthusiastic investors.

In the largest initial public offering this year so far, the SK subsidiary made its grand debut, with shares trading at 98,000 won on Thursday. Its offering price was 49,000 won. For three consecutive trading sessions, it reached the daily permissible limit of 30 percent.

Buoyed by the growing market interest in the biopharma industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, other bio-related stocks such as Celltrion rose 0.98 percent. Meanwhile, Samsung Biologics closed at 751,000 won, down 3,000 won, or 0.40 percent.

Shares of the local drugmaker Medytox also soared to a daily limit, marking 215,800 won at the closing as the US International Trade Commission has sided with the firm in a dispute, saying its local rival Daewoong Pharmaceutical stole trade secrets on botulinum toxin strain. Meanwhile, the final ruling will be delivered by Nov. 6.

While investors’ interest in the biopharma industry is growing, some market watchers are worried over a possible bubble in the related stock prices. They could go up much higher, but nothing can be sure, experts said citing lingering uncertainties in the market.

“Most of the time, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms have the risks of a possible bubble in their share prices. Since SK Biopharmaceuticals is at the beginning stage of its IPO, investors’ expectations could be huge at the moment,” said Kang Bong-joo, an analyst at Meritz Securities.

“Investors need to always be aware that the high volatility of the firm’s shares means that there’s a possibility that the price could also drop steeply.”

Oh Il-sun, director of local corporate tracker Korea CXO Institute, said that the shares of local bio firms have hit a golden age this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But he also showed concern over the bubble in the second half of this year amid the possibility that some firms’ business performance may not meet investors’ expectations.

By Jie Ye-eun (
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Korea Herald daum