Investors loaded up on shares of Korea’s top rice cooker producer Cuckoo Electronics Wednesday, pushing the price up by the daily limit of 15 percent on its first day on the benchmark KOSPI.
Fueled by high expectations for expansion in China, Cuckoo Electronics’ shares rose by the daily ceiling of 15 percent within 30 minutes of trading, going from 180,000 won ($174) to 207,000 won.
The company’s initial public offering was priced at 104,000 won.
Cuckoo's market value soared to 2.02 trillion won by closing.
Since its establishment in 1978, Cuckoo has designed and sold high-pressure rice cookers, an item in nearly all South Korean households. Cuckoo rice cookers have become the top-selling brand, with a 70 percent domestic market share. It is being sold in nearly 30 countries, including the U.S., China, Vietnam and Russia.
Beside rice cookers, Cuckoo Electronics has recently diversified its business, adding a water and air filtration service, bidet and other home appliance rental services.
Cuckoo is the 13th Korean company that went public on the local bourse this year. Three were listed on the KOSPI, and 10 others have entered the tech-laden secondary KOSDAQ, according to the
Korea Exchange (KRX).
Investor interest was high this year as the companies' IPOs drew an average of 678 times more investors than the number of shares available to the public. Their shares surged an average of 45 percent compared with their IPO prices, the KRX said.
Among big names, Interpark INT, an e-commerce company, jumped 143.2 percent to 18,700 won as of Wednesday on the KOSDAQ, while BGF Retail, the operator of the convenient store chain CU, climbed 59 percent to 65,200 won from its initial price on the KOSPI bourse.
Analysts say low interest rates and a low yield environment channeled investors to promising IPO shares, which have outperformed the stagnant local equity market.
"As big companies are scheduled to go public later this year, investors are paying a lot of attention to IPO shares," Kim Sang-man, a researcher at Hana Daetoo Securities Co., said.
Those at the top on the list are Samsung SDS Co., a key IT unit of the nation's largest conglomerate, Samsung, and Samsung Everland Inc., Samsung's de facto holding company, which recently changed its name to Cheil Industries Inc. The Samsung affiliates plan to go public later this year, which is seen as the latest group-wide effort to restructure after its chairman's hospitalization.
Market watchers said that hopes are high for Cuckoo's growth potential as the company earlier said it will use the funds raised through the IPO to expand its business in China, the world's largest market.
"Cuckoo has positioned itself as a premium rice cooker brand in the fast-rising Chinese market and Southeast Asia," said Yoon Hyuk-jin of Eugene Investment & Securities Co.
"Based on its stable cash flow and the sound financial structure, the company is expected to steadily grow, which would give a premium to its share price."
Park said the initial public offering price was undervalued compared to No. 2 rice cooker maker Lihom-Cuchen Ltd., and Coway Co., the nation's largest water filter and bidet rental provider, giving a target price of 190,000 won.
Cuckoo posted 508.8 billion won in sales last year, a 65.9 percent surge from the previous year, while its operating profit shot up 106 percent to 69.2 billion won, the company said. Sales of its premium rice cooker jumped to 1.12 million units last year, up from 734,000 in 2008.
Cuckoo's rice cooker has become one of the most popular items among Chinese tourists who shop at the nation's duty-free shops, bringing to mind affluent Koreans who in the 1980s bought the Japanese brand Zojirushi, which was widely known as the "elephant rice cooker" for its logo.
"As the domestic rice cooker market has already entered the maturity stage, the company decided to further expand its market share in China and grow the rental business at home for additional growth," Park Won-jae, an analyst at Daewoo Securities Co., said.
"The company is expected to improve sales with its competitiveness in the domestic market and rising sales of high-end rice cookers in China."
Chinese consumers proved their purchasing power during the Chinese New Year holiday season this year.
From Jan. 31 through Feb. 6, sales of Cuckoo rice cookers at duty-free shops nationwide soared 110 percent from a year earlier, and about 90 percent of the buyers were Chinese, the company said.
The firm has a local branch and 800 shops in China, and runs sales networks across Southeast Asia.