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THE INVESTOR
January 24, 2022

Market Now

Chip shares surge on recovery signs of memory chip, metaverse wave

  • PUBLISHED :November 23, 2021 - 09:47
  • UPDATED :November 23, 2021 - 09:47
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A rendering of a man holding virtual reality glasses (123rf)

Shares of South Korean semiconductor firms rose sharply Nov. 22 over market prospects on a recovery of memory chip prices amid an intensifying global race to adopt metaverse technology.

Memory chips are a critical component in the metaverse, where users interact with each other in digital worlds, which could offset the bearish forecast for memory chip prices.

Samsung Electronics’ stock -- the tech giant with interests in semiconductors, electronic devices and handsets -- surged 5.2 percent Nov. 22. Another memory chip giant, SK hynix, saw its share price rise 7.2 percent.

The share price rebound led the bull run of the Korean stock market. The benchmark Kospi jumped 1.2 percent to 3.013.25 points.

The combined market cap of Samsung Electronics and SK hynix -- at over 534 trillion won ($450 billion) -- accounts for 24 percent of the Kospi’s total.

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix had fallen 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from January to Nov. 19.

Analysts said the weakness in chipmakers’ fundamentals from falling chip prices has already been priced in. Rather, the latest metaverse hype among investors could cause repricing of the shares.

“The projected memory chip price downturn until the first half of 2022 is no longer triggering a stock price drawdown, as long as we see no further factors to sap memory chip demand,” Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities, wrote in a note to investors Nov. 22.

“Most of all, what is worth paying attention to is that memory chips constitute a core infrastructure of metaverse. Given the factor, memory chip-related stocks have been given excessively low value.”

This is in line with the latest share price hike of US memory chip maker Micron Technology. On Nov. 19, Micron’s stock surged 8.4 percent to $83.52.

The Micron share upsurge is attributable to “anticipation for a relief in supply bottleneck, as well as a market forecast that Microsoft and Meta Platforms would increase its expenditure to build servers for metaverse,” noted Jeff Kim, an analyst at KB Securities, referring to the recently rebranded parent company of Facebook.

The views downplay investor concerns over DRAM oversupply, raising doubts about the sustainability of personal computers, handsets and cloud demand, coupled with buyers’ high DRAM inventory. Taiwan’s market intelligence provider TrendForce has forecast a 15 percent on-year decrease in DRAM average sales price for 2022, but at the same time hinted at a price rebound in the second half of 2022.

Samsung Electronics, SK hynix and Micron are the top three manufacturers of DRAM chips, with market shares of 44 percent, 27.2 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively, in the third quarter, according to data compiled by TrendForce.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)

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