In sick twist, 'Squid Game' is really a stock play
In “Squid Game,” everyone dies except one participant who takes home a pile of cash. Companies connected to the hit Netflix series also seem to be winning big.
The life-or-death kids-game thriller drama, exclusively on Netflix from Sept. 17, became the first Korean original to top Netflix's U.S. viewership charts. It also topped charts in 14 territories and countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Gangnam’s Bucket Studio is one winner.
From Sept. 17 through Monday, the company's shares doubled, hitting the 30 percent daily trading limit on two days.
Bucket Studio is not directly related to the Netflix series, but has been categorized as a related stock as it owns 15 percent of Artist Company, the management company for Lee Jung-jae, lead actor in the drama.
Showbox is also an indirect beneficiary of the smash hit drama series. Shares of the distributor soared as it has made a number of investments into Siren Pictures, the drama's producer.
In two trading days, its shares rose by some 50 percent from 4,100 won ($3.48) to 6,260 won on Friday, though it retreated Monday.
A spokeswoman from Showbox on Monday confirmed on phone that investments were made in Siren Pictures in the past to fund content development, however those investments were not in any way related to the production of the "Squid Game." She also said the investment was not intended to acquire equity of Siren Pictures, which according to its latest corporate filing, in 2017, is 100 percent owned by CEO Kim Ji-yeon.
The success of "Squid Game" boosted media shares overall.
CJ ENM's Studio Dragon rose 5.17 percent to close at 89,500 won on Monday. J Contentree, which controls drama producer JTBC Studios, jumped 6.85 percent to 49,900 won.
Studio Dragon was behind popular Netflix originals like webtoon-turned-drama "Sweet Home" and historical zombie flick "Kingdom." JTBC Studios was behind "D.P.," also a Netflix original Korean series. It topped Netflix viewership charts in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam after its release last month.
Analysts expect Korea's content producing companies to perform well going forward as demand rises for Korean original content.
"Not only Disney+ but other OTTs like Apple TV+ and HBO Max will try to enter the Korean market and secure Korean original content," Oh Tae-wan, an analyst from Korea Investment & Securities, wrote in a report Monday. "An increase in production margins as Korean content goes global and competition between OTT platforms heats up will ultimately benefit Korean drama producers."
"OTT platforms have made video content more accessible," said Hwang Seong-jin, an analyst from Heungkuk Securities. "Demand for so-called K-content is rapidly increasing."
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]