K-Pop Stocks Slump, iHeartMedia Boosted by CEO Share Purchase, SiriusXM Gets Buffett Bounce


The Billboard Global Music Index gained 2.6% this week, bringing the year-to-date gain to 22.1%. 

A sign on the exterior of new building for SM Entertainment building is seen on February 10, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea.

Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

While most music stocks have posted gains over the last two months, or at least have treaded water, K-pop stocks are floundering in the closing stretch of 2023.  

Four South Korean music companies — HYBE, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment — had an average loss of 13.3% this week and have fallen an average of 21.4% in the last eight weeks. SM Entertainment has performed particularly poorly, falling 29.4% in eight weeks. Those losses occurred despite a rally two weeks ago after South Korean regulators’ ban on short selling until 2024 sparked a surge in the country’s stock prices.

Elsewhere, music stocks are generally surging in late 2023. Non-Korean stocks in the Billboard Global Music Index have gained an average of 9.1% over the last eight weeks. Only two of those 18 stocks — iHeartMedia and Deezer — have suffered double-digit losses, and 11 of the 18 have posted gains over those eight weeks. Companies’ latest earnings reports have been mostly positive. Stocks also reflect both investors’ enthusiasm for music industry trends and larger macroeconomic trends such as a slowdown in inflation and an expectation that central banks will stop hiking interest rates. 

While South Korea’s KOSPI composite index has held steady over the last 8 weeks with a 0.2% gain, South Korean music companies have suffered from a string of headline-grabbing news that appears to have dampened demand for their stocks and eroded what were large year-to-date gains. This week, a Kakao executive was arrested for allegedly manipulating SM Entertainment’s stock price to help Kakao beat out HYBE to become the K-pop agency’s largest shareholder. In previous weeks, K-pop stocks faltered when a member of the group EXO broke away from SM Entertainment, and also when G-Dragon, a member of the YG group BIGBANG, was arrested on charges of illegal drug use. 

Even after the eight-week decline, the four K-pop companies have an average year-to-date gain of 20.2%. Non-Korean stocks in the Billboard Global Music Index have an average gain of 6% this year (excluding Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which spun off from Sphere in April). 

The Billboard Global Music Index rose 2.6% to 1,426.49 this week, falling just 1.4% shy of the all-time high of 1,447.32 set on July 21. The index has had a remarkable three-week run, gaining 9.3% since Oct. 27 and erasing most of a 9.9% decline since the July 21 peak. Its year-to-date gain stands at 22.1%.

Music stocks outperformed many other major indexes this week. In the United States, the Nasdaq composite gained 2.4% and the S&P 500 improved 2.2%. In the United Kingdom, the FTSE 100 gained 2%. South Korea’s KOSPI composite index rose 2.5%.

One of this week’s biggest gainers, iHeartMedia, rose 25.4% to $2.52 after the company announced a multi-year podcast partnership deal with Global, a U.K.-based media company, that will make iHeartMedia’s podcasts available on Global’s podcast player and its digital advertising exchange. Perhaps more importantly, CEO Bob Pittman purchased 100,000 iHeartMedia shares on Tuesday (Nov. 14), according to an SEC filing, at an average price of $2.06 per share. At Friday’s closing price, Pittman’s investment has already gained over 22%. 

Abu Dhabi-based music streamer Anghami gained 27.2% to $1.17 — the latest in a series of large fluctuations since September. In October, the company was warned of a potential de-listing for failing to trade above $1. At the time, Anghami shares were trading at $0.82. Over the next five weeks, the share price gained 42.2% without an earnings report, news release or management change that would typically coincide with such a large swing.

Shares of SiriusXM rose 9.7% to $5.08 after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway revealed on Tuesday that it purchased nearly 9.7 million shares with a market value of approximately $44 million. Investors pay close attention to the famous stock picker, who is known for seeking undervalued companies with competitive advantages (Berkshire Hathaway has large stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, Bank of America and Kraft Heinz, among other public companies). In May, Capital One Financial shares jumped 13.5% on news that Berkshire Hathaway bought a $900 million stake.  

Warner Music Group fell 2.6% to $31.81 after reporting earnings for its fiscal year on Thursday. Tencent Music Entertainment, which announced it had reached 103 million subscribers in its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday, gained 13.6% to $8.37.

Coming, up German concert promoter CTS Eventim will report third-quarter earnings on Tuesday (Nov. 21). 

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