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Kakao shares soar on expectation of its gain from Dunamu’s performance

Corporate logo of Kakao (Kakao)
Corporate logo of Kakao (Kakao)
Kakao, the operator of South Korea’s top mobile messenger KakaoTalk, saw its shares soar on the nation’s Kospi market Wednesday, with market watchers predicting the online giant will benefit from the Bitcoin craze.

Shares of Kakao jumped 2.51 percent to 491,000 won ($433) in early morning trading, falling short by only 28,000 won per share from its 52-week high set on Feb. 16. The stock pared part of its earlier gains, but maintained the overall upward movement in the day to close at 485,000 won.

Local brokerage Mirae Asset Daewoo raised Kakao’s stock price target to 590,000 won per share, up from its prior targeted price of 570,000 won per share, adding the firm would be the main beneficiary from the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Upbit’s business growth.

“Kakao owns about a 23 percent stake directly and indirectly in Upbit’s operator Dunamu,” said Kim Chang-kwon, an analyst at Mirae Asset Daewoo. “Since Upbit has already surpassed its record-high traffic and trading amount set in the fourth quarter of 2017, we expect Kakao to enjoy benefits.”

Based on the proportion of Kakao’s ownership in Dunamu, the mobile platform giant saw profits worth 29 billion won in the last quarter of 2017, the analyst said. If the Bitcoin frenzy continues throughout the year, Kakao’s gain on its investment in Dunamu is likely to exceed 100 billion won this year, he explains.

“When the global cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase makes its market debut on the Nasdaq, the equity value of Kakao is also likely to be reevaluated.”

Backed by investors’ keen interest, the market value of cryptocurrencies here has shot up nearly 10 times over the past three years. The world’s largest cryptocurrency hit an all-time high of 71.45 million won per bitcoin on Sunday, compared to 4.96 million won marked in October 2017. A single bitcoin traded at more than 65.1 million won Wednesday late afternoon.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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