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Beauty firms, duty-free operators soar amid hopes for lifting of China sanctions

All News 14:05 January 13, 2020

By Chung Joo-won

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) –- Major South Korean cosmetics and duty-free operators traded higher Monday amid hopes that China may lift its retaliatory economic measures under way for years against Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system here.

Amorepacific Corp., the country's top cosmetics maker, traded at 234,000 won as of 1:42 p.m., up 6.12 percent from the previous session's close, after touching as high as 234,500 won, the highest mark since April 26 last year.

Shares in LG Household & Health Care, the second-largest homegrown beauty giant, were changing hands at 1,411,000 won, up 5.06 percent from the earlier session's close, after touching 1,415,000 won, the highest since May 2.

Beauty firms, duty-free operators soar amid hopes for lifting of China sanctions - 1

"We are expecting a gradual recovery of the cosmetics sector, with signs of a growth in the Chinese high-end cosmetics market," said Na Eun-chae, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities. "In the past two to three years, Sulwhasoo and Hera have expanded retail and marketing in China," referring to two of AmorePacific's premium brands.

Na expected AmorePacific's sales in 2020 to rise 10.5 percent to 6.2 trillion won and the firm's operating profit to soar 31.1 percent to 586 billion won.

KTB Investment & Securities analyst Bae Song-yi estimated the beauty product maker's yearly sales to grow 9.4 percent to 6.1 trillion won and its annual operating profit to gain 29 percent to 583 billion won.

With an expected rise in demand from Chinese travelers, South Korean duty-free operators also continued to build up gains.

Shinsegae, a major duty-free operator, jumped 5.58 percent to 265,000 won, after rising to a yearly high of 265,500 won.

Lotte Shopping, another major duty-free operator, also advanced 4.28 percent to a yearly high of 134,000 won from the previous session's close.

This undated file photo shows Chinese tourists at a duty-free shop in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The advance in cosmetics and retailer stocks was fueled largely by rising speculation that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Seoul as early as March and move to relieve economic sanctions that have been hurting China-exposed companies.

Last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in struck an upbeat note on Seoul's relationship with Beijing in his address for the new year, saying Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are scheduled to visit South Korea this year.

South Korea's cosmetics industry had enjoyed robust growth until 2016, helped by "hallyu," or the Korean Wave, referring to the growing popularity of Korean pop culture abroad.

Exports of South Korean goods to China, its largest buyer, have shrunk drastically since 2017 as the Chinese government imposed economic sanctions over Seoul's deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

In its latest sign of sanctions easing, a 5,000-strong incentive travel group from a Chinese health food company visited South Korea last week, marking the largest incentive travel by a company since 2017.

The number of inbound visitors to South Korea reached the 17.25 million mark last year, surpassing the previous annual record of 17.24 million set in 2016.

jwc@yna.co.kr
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