A logo of Kakao (Kakao)
Kakao, the operator of South Korean messenger app KakaoTalk, was on a record run on the domestic stock market on June 23, narrowing the gap in terms of market capitalization with the incumbent No. 2 chipmaker, SK hynix.
Kakao rose 6.6 percent in closing from the previous day, bringing its total market capitalization to an all-time high of around 75.2 trillion won ($66.1 billion). This solidified Kakao’s position as No. 3 by market cap on the Korea Exchange -- after electronics goods maker Samsung Electronics and semiconductor firm SK hynix -- since it notched up to the slot on June 15. SK hynix’s market cap was at around 90 trillion won the same day.
Trading at 170,000 won apiece in late afternoon trade, Kakao shares reached their highest point since a 5-to-1 stock split in April.
Over the past five trading days, the market cap gap between SK hynix and Kakao has halved to 15 trillion won.
Market watchers expect shares to be boosted by the features update on its flagship KakaoTalk, as it accelerates the app’s transition to a business messenger similar to Facebook’s WhatsApp Business, as well as the listing of key affiliates.
Kakao is poised to add to its Kakao Channel business, allowing corporate clients to launch business accounts to showcase their products or services. This will be an addition to its in-app advertisement service KakaoTalk Biz Board.
This lays the foundation for KakaoTalk to become a full-fledged business messenger where companies can promote and sell products, communicate with customers and settle payments on a single app, according to Kyobo Securities analyst Park Ji-won.
Kakao is expected to charge corporate clients 7.5 won for every e-commerce push notification, and up to 20 won for every marketing message.
This leads to an estimate that transactions on the Kakao Commerce platform will rise 57.3 percent to 6.7 trillion won through 2021, according to Park. Kakao’s revenue through advertisement messages and payments over Kakao Pay will both jump nearly 50 percent year-on-year, Park estimated.
“More Kakao Channel accounts and more subscribers translate into an increase in advertisement income of Kakao,” noted Park.
The internet giant is planning to merge with subsidiary Kakao Commerce by September to enhance the synergy effect of Kakao’s e-commerce functions. Kakao is also eyeing a merger between Kakao Commerce’s spinoff with Croquis.com, known for its online marketplace app Zigzag by the end of June. Furthermore, Kakao is eyeing the trillion won initial public offering of finance arms KakaoBank and Kakao Pay during this year.
Meanwhile, internet rival Naver’s market cap approached 70 trillion won, making it the fourth-largest company on Korea’s stock market. Naver soared 8.3 percent from the previous day’s closing.
By Son Ji-hyoung (firstname.lastname@example.org)