JP Morgan Investment Management has lifted its stake in Mode Tour, seemingly betting that travel will start recovering rapidly if the Covid-19 pandemic ends soon.

The New York-based company said that its shareholding in Mode Tour had risen to 7.47% from 6.40% (as of December 20), indicating that it bought stock worth about 1.6 billion won ($1.4 million).

Industry analysts said this may look unusual at first glance, as Mode Tour recorded massive losses last year, like South Korea’s other leading travel agencies.

However, they said JP Morgan appears to have decided that the smaller number of travel agencies that survived the Covid-19 crisis will be able to gain an increased market share, with Mode Tour becoming one of the survivors.

JP Morgan analysts believe the pandemic could “effectively” end by April, judging from the current trajectory of Covid-19 cases and vaccinations, according to a report that the company released last week.

The revenue of Mode Tour tumbled 82.3% last year to 42.9 billion won ($38.8 million) from a year earlier and its operating loss amounted to 10.9 billion won, as the pandemic hampered travel agencies’ overseas tour businesses.

“The global pandemic has dampened the growth of the travel market, but it will rebound right after the end of the crisis,” said a source from Mode Tour.

“We expect we will be able to enjoy the benefit of ‘economy of scale’ once the travel market becomes normalized in the foreseeable future.” (Reporting by Sun-ho Kim)

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