SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- AmorePacific Co., POSCO and SK hynix Inc. were among the top picks by foreign investors last year, while offshore investors trimmed their holdings of top market cap Samsung Electronics Co., Hyundai Mobis Co. and Samsung Life Insurance Co., industry data showed on Tuesday.
According to the data compiled by market tracker FNGuide, foreign investors scooped up local shares worth 12.1 trillion won (US$10.2 billion) in total last year, with some 3.6 trillion won poured into buying top cosmetics maker AmorePacific, top steelmaker POSCO and major chipmaker SK hynix.
Offshore investors bought a net 1.36 trillion won worth of AmorePacific stocks, followed by POSCO with 1.24 trillion won, SK hynix with 1.02 trillion won and top portal operator Naver with 848 billion won.
LG Household & Healthcare, Korea Zinc and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. were among their top picks as well, the data showed.
Despite foreign investors' massive buying, AmorePacific dropped 22.44 percent last year as South Korea's decision to install a U.S. missile defense system on its soil irked China, sparking concerns that Korean beauty products and cultural content may face backlash from Chinese consumers.
Meanwhile, foreign investors sold the most shares of Samsung Electronics, the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones. They had a net sell-off of 1.76 trillion won, followed by preferred stocks of Samsung Electronics with net sales of 1.41 trillion won, top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. with 844 billion won and top life insurer Samsung Life Insurance Co. with 546 billion won.
Samsung Electronics saw its stock price surge 43.02 percent last year in the face of the heavy sell-off by foreign investors as its earnings were better than what the market had expected despite a global recall of its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7.
Samsung Electronics estimated that its fourth-quarter operating profit last year may have jumped about 50 percent on-year, beating market expectations as strong sales of chips and displays appeared to help offset losses from the production halt of the Note 7.
Operating profit is estimated at 9.2 trillion won in the October-December period last year, up 49.84 percent from the same quarter of 2015.
Compared with a quarter earlier, the fourth-quarter operating profit is estimated to have surged 77 percent, it said.
Fourth-quarter sales are estimated at 53 trillion won, down 0.6 percent on-year, Samsung said.
Foreign investors held local stocks worth 481.6 trillion won in total at the end of last year, with their portion against the market cap rising by 2.6 percentage points to 31.2 percent, according to the data.
Yoo, Heui-Jin email@example.com
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