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Small media stocks surge on ‘Squid Game’ bonanza

A promotional image of
A promotional image of "Squid Game" (Courtesy of Netflix)
Small-cap stocks related to the local media and entertainment business are on a bull run, as traders hoped to piggyback on the success of the Netflix megahit “Squid Game.”

Content production firm Bucket Studio saw its stock price nearly double over the course of three trading days, since the stock market reopened Thursday following the national Chuseok holiday.

Last week, Bucket Studio hit the price ceiling on both Thursday and Friday, and rose 2 percent Monday. Its market cap approached 200 billion won ($170 million) as of Monday’s closing, up from 114 billion won as of Sept. 17.

Bucket Studio began garnering investor attention because the company is a minority shareholder of Artist Company, holding 15 percent ownership. Artist Company is home to actor Lee Jung-jae, who played protagonist Seong Gi-hun in the nine-episode Battle Royale-style survival drama series “Squid Game.”

But some fared worse due to the heightened volatility of the stocks.

Showbox, a media company dedicated to film investment, production and distribution, fell over 10 percent Monday, soon after the company saw its stock price soar more than 50 percent from Thursday to Friday.

The volatility comes after earlier reports said Showbox, the media arm of the Orion conglomerate, had financed a film production by “Squid Game” producer Siren Pictures in its early stages. Siren Pictures said Showbox’s financing had nothing to do with “Squid Game.”

The sudden upshot follows the surge in popularity for “Squid Game,” which topped the global Netflix chart last week after its release.

Analysts say the investor attention on Korean media stocks is unlikely to be short-lived.

The poised launch of Disney+ in Korea in November will intensify the race among global streaming service providers to secure Korean content and ramp up spending at Korean media firms to create original productions. Its maiden voyage will start with a drama series produced by Next Entertainment World, titled “Our Police Course.”

Alongside Netflix and Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max is also eyeing a launch into the Korean market.

Against this backdrop, Korean content production firms, especially small and medium-sized companies such as Astory, Next Entertainment World and Samhwa Networks are likely to be beneficiaries.

Oh Tae-wan, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said Korean media firms enjoy increased profit margins on heightened anticipation for “global over-the-top media firms’ appetite for spending in Korea.” Oh maintained an “overweight” rating for stocks in Korean media and advertisement sectors.

Astory jumped 15.7 percent, Next Entertainment World rose 12.7 percent and Samhwa Networks jumped 10.2 percent over the past three trading days.

By Son Ji-hyoung (
Korea Herald daum