Samsung Electronics Co's market value surged past US$100 billion yesterday as its stock jumped 5.1 percent, putting it among Asia's largest companies by market capitalization.
The value of Samsung's common stock rose to about 103 trillion won, or (US$103 billion), after its share price rose to a record high 699,000 won (US$699) yesterday. The won's strength against the US dollar also contributed to crossing the threshold.
Samsung, the world's biggest manufacturer of memory chips, became the first in South Korea to achieve such size, and is more than twice as big by this measure as Japanese rival Sony Corp, valued at about ?4.7 trillion, or US$41 billion.
This puts Samsung among the region's biggest companies by capitalization, but it still trails several giants, including Toyota Motor Co, which is valued at about ?22 trillion (US$190 billion).
Investors scooped up Samsung shares on anticipation of improved earnings during the fourth quarter and into the first quarter of this year, analysts said.
The company, the nation's biggest, is also a leading maker of mobile phone handsets and other consumer electronics including digital music players.
Consumer demand is moving toward gadgets that can do several things, such as cellphones that can also access the Internet or play video clips, and Samsung seems to have anticipated that change in the evolving information technology market, analysts said.
"Current IT demand is moving toward multi-function," said Chung Chang-won, a technology analyst at Daewoo Securities in Seoul.
Chung said improved profit margins for mobile phone handsets as well as expected strong demand for products during the Chinese New Year are factors driving optimism for the company's earnings outlook.