Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SSNLF), the South Korean conglomerate, has managed to capture a good share of the global markets with its products and is often referred to Apple’s archrival. The company ranks seventh on the list of the world’s most valuable brands thanks its success in the electronics business and word of technology.
While Samsung is a hugely popular brand, holding its shares has never been easy for U.S. investors. We take a look at the latest developments at Samsung as well as understand the best ways to invest in it.
Samsung’s foldable smartphone – which has been in news for a while - should be reality soon. The hybrid product, dubbed as “smartlet,” will be a 5-inch smartphone that unfolds to turn into a 7-inch tablet. According to Korea’s news site ETNews, Samsung is targeting a 2017 release of the smartlet. Samsung’s patent application publication shows not just the foldable smartphone, but also a scrollable and bendable smartphone designs. However, there is no news on the release or production of the other smartphone options as of now.
The smartphone market is flooded with regular smartphones and may be over-saturated. Because of this, there is the potential that a new-concept product like smartlet can create momentum.
Samsung understands that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to be mainstream soon, and has looked to invest in AI companies, such as Vicarious Systems, Reactor Labs, Maluuba, Idibon, Automated Insights, Winston and Expect Labs (recently renamed MindMeld).
According to a report by CB Insights, Samsung Venture Investment ranked fourth in size among global firms, which have made investments in AI start-ups in the last five years (2010-2015).
“Artificial intelligence will make things we do on smartphones much more convenient. Your well-trained phone will bring about a huge customer loyalty” said Rhee In Jong, EVP, Head of R&D, Software and Services at Samsung Electronics Mobile Business Division.
Virtual Reality (VR) is another buzzword in the tech world. Samsung’s Gear VR is already available and is powered by Oculus, and works seamlessly with its smartphones (Galaxy S7|S7 edge, Note5, S6 and S6 edge).
According to a report by IDC, the shipment of Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will witness a surge in 2016 primarily led by products from Sony, Samsung, HTC and Oculus, with total volumes touching 9.6 million, generating a revenue of approximately $2.3 billion. It further predicts that the growth of VR hardware is likely to reach 64.8 million by 2020, recording a 183.8% growth (CAGR, 2016-2020) while the volume of augmented reality hardware should increase from the present 0.4 million to 45.6 million by 2020 growing at 189.8% (CAGR, 2016-2020). Samsung believes that “VR will become the future of how we engage with media.”
To accelerate the adoption of its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay has teamed up with Verifone (PAY). The partnership will help encourage further adoption by merchants and consumers. Samsung Pay, which is currently available in the U.S., South Korea and China, is likely to be rolled out in Singapore during the second quarter 2016.
Ways to Invest
The shares of Samsung don’t trade on major exchanges like Nasdaq and NYSE in the U.S. It is listed on the Korean exchange and available as GDR in London and Luxembourg. However, in accordance with Rule 144A of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act, U.S. citizens are prohibited from investing in GDR’s. The following options are available to U.S. investors:
- Investors can either buy shares directly in the Korean stock market after proper paper work or through a local securities firm or bank (Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. are eligible)
- Investors can buy Samsung’s shares traded over-the-counter in the U.S.
- Investors can opt to take exposure to Samsung along with other Korean companies by investing in a South Korea ETF, for example, the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF (EWY) has a heavy exposure of 20.64% towards Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
While Samsung’s products are endorsed in the U.S., the same enthusiasm isn’t seen around its shares which suffer from a thin trading volume and consequently face illiquidity while trading OTC. This issue aside, Samsung continues to innovate and invest to keep pace with the latest developments and biggest technology giants around the globe.
The author has no position in any stocks mentioned. Investors should consider the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration.