Shares of Kakao Corp., the operator of South Korea’s largest messenger app Kakao Talk, survived the broad rout on Friday as retailers welcomed the company’s plan to make its stock more accessible through a 5-to-1 stock split after its value jumped four-fold over a year.
The stock rose to 502,000 won in early session in response to the after-market announcement on Thursday and finished Friday with a 0.72 percent gain at 488,000 won whereas the broad Kospi slipped 2.8 percent on foreign and institutional selloff following overnight plunge in U.S. markets.
Kakao announced in a regulatory filing on Thursday that a proposal to break up the stock five to one would be put to a vote at the shareholders’ meeting on March 29. The new stock whose face value cut to 100 won from 500 won ($0.45) will be relisted on April 15.
A stock split, most recently taken by blue-chips Samsung Electronics Co. and Naver Corp., would not alter the corporate or market value of the company, currently 9th biggest on the Kospi, but make the shares more accessible through 5 times more outstanding shares.
The number of Kakao shares would stretch to 443,523,100 from current 88,704,620 shares.
Kakao shares have jumped four-fold from 127,500 won low in March last year amidst pandemic outbreak to 519,000 won earlier this month as the company’s stellar 2020 performance raised expectations for further growth on lucrative businesses sprawling on the chat platform nearly all Koreans use daily.
“Retail investors’ accessibility to high-priced shares is limited,” Oh Hyun-seok, head of research center at Samsung Securities, noting that the stock split would lead to new demand. “The move would affect supply and investor sentiment. Fundamental does not change.”
Stock splits mostly lead to fall in prices for a certain period.
After Naver split its shares in a five-to-one ratio on Oct. 12, 2018, its shares immediately enjoyed rally but fell about 8 percent over three months. When Samsung Electronics split its stock 50-to-1 on May 4 2018, its shares plummeted 12 percent over the following three months.
Still, stock split is very common in the global financial markets as companies want to attract more investors by increasing the liquidity of the shares.
Apple split its stock five times with the latest one of a four-to-one split in August last year. Tesla also conducted a five-to-one split in the same month, and the announcement led to an 8.4 percent surge in shares in after-hours trading.
Since its inception in 1987, U.S. Microsoft split its stock nine times, Walmart nine times, and Ford eight times.
Brokerages had been buoyant on Kakao stock even before the split plan.
Last month, Kyobo Securities upped the target price to 550,000 won and SK Securities to 590,000 won.
According to stock tracker FnGuide, brokerages projected Kakao to raise 774.3 billion won in operating profit this year, up 70 percent from preliminary earnings last year, on sales of 5.5 trillion won, up 33 percent.
By Kim Jung-beom and Lee Eun-joo
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