By Lee Min-hyung
Kakao, the operator of the nation's most popular messenger app KakaoTalk, topped the list of the most sought-after Korean stocks among foreign investors in November, data showed Monday.
According to the Korea Exchange, foreigners' net purchase of Kakao shares reached 213.1 billion won ($180 million) in November.
This is noteworthy in that foreign investors went on a selling spree here in November amid growing external trade uncertainties due to the year-long trade war between the United States and China.
Despite skeptical views on the local stock market, the outlook for Kakao's growth remains promising, according to market experts. They said the company is likely to continue to improve its profitability by generating synergy with its multiple business platforms.
"Driven by KakaoTalk Biz Board, the firm's newly-launched advertising service, Kakao is expected to come to the forefront in the advertising market," DB Financial Investment analyst Hwang Hyun-joon said. The platform started its beta service in October, and is now generating daily sales of 200 million won to 300 million won, the analyst said.
Kakao introduced the new business model by placing banner advertisements above the list of users' conversations, as part of its revenue diversification strategy.
"By the end of this year, the daily sales figure will rise to as high as 500 million won," he said. "The company will also create synergy in its business platforms. In particular, Biz Board will continue to attract more advertisers, helping Kakao drive up its earnings."
The mobile platform operator is also unlikely to be hit by unexpected overseas political uncertainties, as the company operates its software-driven business specifically in the local market.
Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, the two largest KOSPI-listed companies here, have in recent months suffered from setbacks from the trade feud between Washington and Beijing. This led foreign investors to sell off stocks worth hundreds of billions won in November.
But foreign investors increased their stake in Kakao. As of the end of last month, foreigners owned 30.31 percent of Kakao shares, up 0.64 percentage points from the previous month.
Samsung BioLogics followed Kakao, securing the second spot in terms of foreigners' monthly net purchases during the same period. Their net purchases of the Samsung affiliate's shares reached 93.4 billion won last month, according to data from the securities exchange operator.