BEST SMALL CAP COMPANY
In 2000 a group of Korean biopharmaceutical experts believed they could manufacture botox using their own technology and scientific research. They formed Medytox, and since its incorporation the company has become the most widely used botox brand in Korea. Its shares were listed on the local stock exchange in 2009.
Its future prospects are growing fast. As global interest in plastic surgery increases, the global botox market is set to rise 11% each year. Medytox wants to export its ‘Neuronox’ brand to become a strong contender on the world stage of biopharmaceutical products. It is testing the product in Australia and aims to export it to 20 more countries including Russia and Brazil. It is also developing a safer type of botox.
Medytox is expanding its reach by pricing its botox 30% cheaper than market-leading Allergan, and is also pushing it for medical use on cerebral palsy patients.
“They provide similar products at a cheaper price than competitors such as Allergan’s botox,” says an equity analyst in Seoul. “They have been growing stronger than the entire botolinum toxin market by first, expanding its end-market to the medical spectrum from aesthetics in the domestic market and secondly, by expanding into more countries mostly in the emerging markets.”
The drive has certainly been reflected in its financial statements. At a time when the economic downturn has marred expansion in the traditionally stronger industrial companies in Korea, Medytox’s third quarter sales rose 98.2% to KRW9.1 billion (US$8.4 million) compared to the same period in 2011. Operating profit rose 221.2% to KRW4.7 billion.
And the good news looks set to continue; Woori Securities estimates that Medytox’s fourth quarter sales will rise to KRW11.5 billion.
BEST MEDIUM-CAP COMPANY
Avid users of Asia’s best-selling cosmetics will be familiar with Amore Pacific. The company’s proprietary technology in anti-aging and whitening lotions has catapulted the domestic company to success overseas, with its first flagship store opening in Hong Kong in 2004.
The trick was to launch targeted marketing campaigns for a variety products, which include discount cosmetics brands for younger generations such as ‘Etude House’ as well as herbal lotions sold under the ‘Sulhwasoo’ brand that cater to premium customers.
The marketing behind these brands hit the sweet spot for Asian women, who helped it boost international revenue at least 30% for the past three quarters, with the third quarter jumping a whopping 41%. It’s no wonder that the company is pushing harder into Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Taiwan to take advantage of a burgeoning middle class. In Singapore, sales jumped 147% after it opened its first store this year.
Amore is also betting big on China, and analysts agree that such a move in markets will be even more lucrative for the South Korean beauty goods maker.
According to Hyundai Securities, Amore will grow an average 12% each year in China by 2014 as consumer buying power and rising living standards spur demand for the products. The stock is up 90% on the MSCI Korea mid cap index so far this year.
“This company has been able to crack both the high and low-end of the Chinese consumer, so you have the China story. Their marketing was also very successful in attracting customers across the spectrum,” says a local equity fund manager.
Once Amore clinches a sizeable share of China’s cosmetics market, the company’s ambitious goal of becoming one of the world’s top seven cosmetic brands by 2020 may well be achieved.
BEST LARGE CAP COMPANY
Samsung Electronics continues to prove that even the world’s largest technology company by revenue can keep progressing year by year.
The list of achievements for the top manufacturer of smart phones, televisions, and semiconductors has been impressive at a time when the global slowdown had customers thinking twice about buying the latest gadget. The Korean tech giant beat Apple and Nokia to clinch 31% market share of the world’s smart phone market from 9% in 2009. That is double that of the 15% market share held by Apple.
In the third quarter of 2012 Samsung Electronics’ operating profit hit a record high, rising 91% to KRW8.12 trillion compared to the same period in 2011 due to the popularity of the flagship handset Galaxy S III. It became one of the fastest selling smart phones in the world after the company said it sold more than 30 million handsets in about five months.
“The Android system in Samsung’s phones has caught up with Apple’s iOS, and increasing the size of the phone screens made a lasting impression on customers that they’ve evolved their phone from previous models,” says a Seoul-based equity analyst. “That makes them a stronger competitor against Apple, which really needed something new to come out. We still haven’t seen any new products from [Apple CEO] Tim Cook.”
Samsung’s top spot in the global television market may be cemented for some time as rivals like Sony and Panasonic suffer from record losses, a strong yen and junk credit ratings.
The company is the most highly rated company in Asia, and its ‘A+’ credit rating by Fitch will be supported as Nomura forecasts its smart phone sales will jump to 67 million smart phones in the fourth quarter. Even though ongoing patent law battles between Apple look set to remain a drag for the company, its leading position in various electronic industries are a strong source of support to fall back on.
Yoon Yun-soo, CEO, Fila Korea
One of South Korea’s first cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals was pioneered by 67-year old Yoon Yun-soo, who kicked off his career as a sales agent.
He was the owner of the Korea’s franchise for sports goods maker Fila when he bought the company in 2007, a move that shocked the country. But his appetite to build his company did not stop there.
Yoon beat Adidas, Nike and Callaway to buy Acushnet Company, which owns world-renowned golf brands such as Titleist and FootJoy golf.
“He was the shrimp that ate the whale,” says an equity analyst at a local securities firm.
Yoon’s experience of breaking new barriers is helping the company weather weak demand for consumer goods. His company has grand plans to grow in the Asian region including China by launching a new Titleist clothing line that will help the company garner market share early on.
Although Fila Korea’s revenue fell 22% to KRW144 billion in the third quarter, Korea Investment Securities says rising royalties in Japan and an improvement in consumer sentiment in the US will boost operating profit 14% to KRW110 billion in 2013.
Yoon’s experience has given him the vision to see that now is a time for Korean companies to pursue M&A ambitions. He recently told a Korean newspaper that the global economic slowdown has created a plethora of takeover targets in the US and Europe, but that this window of opportunity will close after five years amid China’s growing dominance in the world economy.
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