SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) — Retail investors’ stock ownership in Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea’s most valuable company, surpassed 10 percent for the first time as they went bargain hunting for its shares amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, industry data showed Sunday.

Individual investors owned a total of 65.3 million common shares of Samsung Electronics as of Friday, accounting for 10.1 percent of the total, according to industry data.

The world’s largest memory chip and smartphone vendor is valued at 486.5 trillion won (US$435.3 billion) as of Friday, representing about 22 percent of the Korea Composite Stock Price Index’s (KOSPI) total market capitalization.

Retail investors’ holdings of the company reached 6.5 percent at the end of 2020, up from 3.6 percent a year earlier.

They bought a net 18.4 trillion won in the first four months of this year, purchasing 3.6 percent of shares in the company to raise their total ownership to over 10 percent.

The ratio is now even higher than that of the nation’s state fund, which in March reported that its shares in the company fell below 10 percent as it locked in profits from last year.

Excluding the National Pension Fund, institutional investors’ shares in Samsung Electronics stood at 4.6 percent.

Shares of Samsung Electronics fell as low as 42,300 won on March 19, 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, but they nearly doubled to 81,000 won at the end of last year. They closed at 81,500 on Friday.

Samsung Electronics Co.'s Seoul building is seen in this photo taken on May 2, 2021. (Yonhap)