UPDATE : Monday, July 6, 2020
Amid plunging Seoul bourse, diagnostic firms enjoy price rise
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.03.23 17:46
  • Updated 2020.03.23 17:46
  • comments 0

While the nation's main stock market is showing a historically steep rate of decline due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some biopharmaceutical and diagnostic firms are enjoying record rising streak in stock prices.

The nation's stock markets fluctuated wildly once again on Monday, with the benchmark KOSPI losing an additional 83.68 points, or 5.34 percent, to close the trading at 1,482.46 at 4 p.m.

The freefall caused market operators to halt trading temporarily just six minutes after the stock market opened. The side breaker was also applied to the secondary Kosdaq market.

The nosedive came after the government moved to stabilize the market to some extent by signing a $60 billion currency swap agreement with the United States last Thursday. The currency swap agreement led to a sharp price rise briefly but failed to bring about a fundamental momentum for a rebound.

In contrast to the majority of the companies listed on the nation's primary and secondary bourse that are suffering from the adverse impact of COVID-19, some diagnostic companies, such as Seegene and Sugentech, have seen their stock prices soar with the successful launch of diagnostic kits in the global market.

Seegene’s stocks marked a 52-week high on Monday as the company's share price reached 73,500 won ($58). The share price fell back a little but stood at 68,800 won as of 4 p.m., a 1.18 percent increase from the previous trading day.

That was a far cry from the share price of 22,800 won on Jan. 20 when Korea confirmed its first COVID-19 patient.

Seegene is now scrambling to meet a sharp spike in demand for its test kits from various countries grappling with the shortage of test kits.

According to the company, the order surge prompted Seegene to boost production for exports to 25 percent from 10 percent. The company has also completed a pre-submission meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is a preliminary step to export the company's COVID-19 diagnostic kit to America.

Sugentech is also benefiting from a rare “COVID-19 boom” as the company’s shares recorded a 52-week high at 18,400 won during the mid-day trading on Monday. The company's shares ended the trading at 17,450 won.

The company is planning to export 50,000 of its COVID-19 diagnostic kit to six countries -- Germany, Italy, Austria, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines -- while planning to boost its manufacturing capacity to meet the high demand from abroad.

"From May, we are planning to manufacture 200,000 to 300,000 test kits per week to meek the international demand," the company said.

Besides, Celltrion saw a boost in its share prices after the company announced that it had completed the first step in developing a treatment for COVID-19 by establishing an antibody candidate library for the recovery patient's blood and secured 300 antibodies.

Shares of Celltrion jumped 14.75 percent to 175,000 won, and its affiliates Celltrion Pharm and Celltrion Healthcare also saw their stocks soar to 44,150 won and 66,500 won, up 29.47 and 6.57 percent, respectively, from the previous trading day.


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