As Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. prepares to launch its Galaxy S4 smartphone Thursday afternoon, it won’t be just the techies looking to cash in on the Korean company's next big thing. Investors all over the world will be keeping a close eye on Samsung’s stock as the smartphone is unveiled during the Galaxy S4 launch event, which starts at 7 p.m. EST Thursday in New York City's famous Radio City Music Hall. The event will also be live streamed online.
Buzz about the Galaxy S4 has been abundant for months now as everything from rumors to actual leaked videos and photographs have fueled hundreds of news stories about the phone, none of which can be proven factual until later on today. In the meantime, traders who are not as interested in the phone as much as they are in the money that the phone can make them will want to keep a close watch on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and a fund called iShares South Korea Index Fund (NYSE: EWY).
To get to Samsung’s stock directly, you have to be in a position to buy stocks on the South Korean exchange and because the process is too much of a hassle, iShares is the next best thing.
Known to most investors as an exchange traded fund (ETF), a security that tracks an index, commodity or a basket of assets like a mutual fund but trades like a stock, iShares boasts Samsung shares — the ones that trade on the South Korean exchange — as its top holding (more than 22 percent). By comparison, the next highest allocation is Hyundai Motors, which only represents 5.3 percent of the ETF.
For traders, the high percentage of Samsung stock makes iShares, which trade on the NYSE, an efficient and potentially lucrative way to play the Galaxy S4 release.
While the ETF opened trading Thursday at $59.82, down from the 52-week high of $65 it reached at the beginning of the year, the buzz from the Galaxy S4 – which is said to include a 5-inch high-resolution screen, a 13-megapixel camera, a much faster processor and the latest iteration of Google’s (Nasdaq:GOOG) Android operating system -- should provoke a steady increase in the share price during the weeks and months to come.
That said, traders should be wary of the impact smartphone hype can have on a company's stock: For example, Apple's stock (Nasdaq:AAPL) has been falling precipitously since mid-September, just days after the company unveiled its highly anticipated iPhone 5. Days before the event, however, shares reached an all-time high at $705; in the months since, Apple shares have lost more than 20 percent of their value, and its stock continues to slip.
Samsung shares aren't likely to tumble nearly as hard as Apple, if at all, but if reality doesn't live up to expectations (see: iPhone 5), Samsung might take a temporary hit -- at least until the rumors start for its next electronic device, which is never too far away.
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.