South Korea’s Samsung BioLogics Co., a biopharmaceutical business arm of Samsung Group, will soon take the lead over the country’s biopharma bellwether Celltrion Inc. in terms of market capitalization after its stocks have steadily risen since its market debut in November on rosy business prospects.
Samsung BioLogics stocks listed on Seoul’s main bourse Kospi have gained 13.9 percent from the start of this year to March 14, outperforming a 2.2 percent rise of the country’s pharmaceutical sector. Over the cited period, foreign investors have net purchased 38 billion won ($33.2 million) worth of Samsung BioLogics shares, betting on the company’s positive growth outlook in addition to Samsung’s premium brand image.
Following the recent rally, Samsung BioLogics’ market capitalization surpassed 11 trillion won just in four months after its initial public offer on Nov. 10 when it stood at about 9.5 trillion won. In contrast, shares of the country’s long-time pharma heavyweight Celltrion listed on the secondary Kosdaq market dipped into the 90,000 won range this month, narrowing the market value gap with Samsung BioLogics to a mere 40 billion won on Monday. Celltrion’s market cap reached 11.48 trillion won and Samsung BioLogics 11.44 trillion won as of Monday.
Samsung BioLogics’ stocks have been buoyed by optimism over the company’s future, according to market analysts. The company posted an operating loss of about 200 billion won a year due to massive facility investment between 2012 and 2015. But in 2016, it began to show tangible outcomes, with operating losses narrowing to 30.4 billion won over sales of 147.5 billion won, up a whopping 221 percent from a year ago. Another positive factor is its triumph in a patent battle over a Humira manufacturer early this month.
Still, some analysts remain cautious about the company’s earnings citing uncertainties ahead. It remains to be seen whether the company will actually meet the market’s rosy expectations for earnings growth despite some tangible results in the area of contract production of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars, said Kwak Jin-hee, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.
Shares of Samsung BioLogics finished Wednesday at 173,500 won, up 1.5 percent from the previous session whereas Celltrion shares fell 3.4 percent to 94,700 won.
By Kim Dae-gi and Lee Yong-gun
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