FOMO left retail punters well underwater in 2021
Retail punters filled their boots and lost their shirts, the only category of investor that ended the year down on their top 10 purchases.
A 46-year-old office worker in Seoul bought 80-million-won ($67,400) of shares in January and February, but is tens of millions of won worse off as a result. He used to own shares in more than 10 companies, but offloaded everything except Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Mobis and SK Innovation.
"I've been waiting for almost a year for them to rise, but I'm still sitting on 20-million-won losses," he said. "I'm so stressed out that I don't even check stock prices anymore."
Retail investors splurged on stocks this year, net buying 80.2 trillion won of shares this year through Tuesday. That's already higher than last year's net purchases of 64 trillion won. They lost an average 9.4 percent in their top 10 purchases.
Foreign investors gained an average 0.9 percent on their top 10, and institutions 4.8 percent.
Individuals lost an average 23.4 percent on SK Biopharmaceuticals, 19.5 percent on Hyundai Mobis, 18.9 percent on Kumho Petrochemical and 11.8 percent on Hyundai Motor. They lost on average 3.4 percent on Samsung Electronics, the most purchased stock by individuals.
They gained 3.5 percent from SK hynix and 2.2 percent from Naver, the only two in the top 10 that gained.
Foreign investors gained 64.6 percent from EcoPro BM and 13.5 percent from HYBE. They lost on only four of top 10 picks — LG Chem, KakaoBank, Samsung SDI and Samsung Biologics.
Institutional investors were also down on four picks, including Krafton, Kakao Pay, S-Oil and Hyundai Heavy Industries.
"The poor performance of retail investors is almost obvious considering making investments were harder compared to last year," said Pyeon Deuk-hyeon, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities. "This year's stock market was a time when only professionals could see gains."
The Kospi rose 30.8 percent in last year, but was sluggish this year. The index closed at 2,998.17 on Thursday, up 1.8 percent compared Jan. 4.
Some analysts say that retail investors picked the wrong time to buy shares.
Individuals bought 25-trillion-won worth of stocks, or 32 percent of their total net purchases, in January.
Some 12 trillion won was used to buy Samsung electronics and the company's preferred shares, but the electronics maker has been slipping. Shares closed at 91,000 won in Jan. 11 but fell below the 70,000-won mark in October. The company's shares closed at 79,900 won on Thursday.
Individuals purchased 2-trillion-won each in Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis in January, following news that the automaker could possibly cooperate with Apple for the Apple Car. Hyundai Motor traded at 267,500 won in Jan. 11 but closed at 209,000 won on Thursday.
"January was when fear of missing out in such a winning stock market reached its peak," said Jeong Myung-ji, an analyst at Samsung Securities. "Investing in companies with shares that already rose by a huge margin left retail investors with under performing investments."
BY HWANG EUI-YOUNG, LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]