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Drugmakers' market cap nearly triples in 4 years

Dec. 6, 2015 - 16:52 By 이선영
Guess what sector of the Korean economy expanded at the fastest pace in the past four years? It wasn’t automobiles or memory chips. 

According to a report released Sunday, it was pharmaceuticals, with front-runner Hanmi Pharmaceutical making some big strides this year into a global industry long considered an exclusive league of richer and more advanced economies. 

The combined market cap of bio and health care companies on Korea’s main bourse KOSPI came in at 28.53 trillion won ($24.57 billion) as of Friday, 178.9 percent higher than 10.23 trillion won at end-2011, according to the report from bourse operator Korea Exchange. From a year ago, the figure more than doubled. 

Leading the gains were Hanmi Pharmaceutical and its parent Hanmi Science, which emerged as the darlings of investors, racking up mega licensing deals worth more than 7.6 trillion won this year. 

Hanmi Science’s market cap made a meteoric rise, from 172.5 billion won at the end of 2011 to 8 trillion won on Friday. Shares of Hanmi Pharmaceutical logged a similarly stellar performance, moving from 417.9 billion won to 7.6 trillion won over the same period.  

Still, the ratio of pharmaceutical stocks on the KOSPI bourse stood at 2.27 percent of the total, despite rising robustly from 0.98 percent in 2011. 

Sunday’s report also revealed that while 15 of the 18 industrial sectors on the local bourse reported gains over the four-year period, steel and metal; transportation and equipment; and construction saw their market cap shrink due to sluggish businesses. 

By Lee Sun-young (