Boosted by K-pop’s growing popularity and artists’ return to concert stages, the four publicly traded South Korean music companies — HYBE, SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment — posted average revenue growth of 71% in the second quarter of 2023, according to Billboard’s analysis of their recent earnings reports.
Sky-high growth rates in recent quarters have helped make the K-pop companies a wise investment in 2023: Through Wednesday (Aug. 16), the four share prices increased an average of 63.6% year to date, adding more than $4.7 billion in market capitalization cumulatively to the companies’ stocks. In contrast, stocks of the two largest standalone music companies, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, have gained 3.6% and lost 6%, respectively, year-to-date through Tuesday (Aug. 15).
In terms of revenue growth, the leader in the second quarter was JYP Entertainment, home to the groups Stray Kids and Twice. JYP’s revenue grew 124% to 151.7 billion won ($115.2 million), with new albums by Stray Kids, Twice and NMixx driving a 298% increase in physical sales to 74.1 billion won ($56.3 million). Republic Records, JYP’s partner in the United States, accounted for 14.5 billion won ($11 million) of physical sales, or about 20% of the total amount. Elsewhere, JYP’s concert revenue grew 44% year-over-year to a record 14.4 billion won ($10.9 million) while merchandise sales climbed 151% to 21.7 billion won ($16.5 million). Domestic streaming revenue grew 18% to 2.2 billion won ($1.7 million) while overseas streaming revenue jumped 82% to 10.3 billion won ($7.8 million).
YG Entertainment boasts the greatest share price gain among the group at 75.6% year to date. The company behind breakthrough girl group BLACKPINK, YG posted revenue of 158.3 billion won ($120.2 million) in the second quarter, up 108% from the prior-year period.
JYP Entertainment’s operating income grew 88% to 45.6 billion won ($34.6 million) but missed its 51-billion won estimate, causing the company’s share price to fall 8.2% the following day. Although its revenue grew 124% in the quarter, JYP was hurt by what it called a “temporary increase in content product costs.” As a result, its cost of goods sold rose 162% while gross margin percentage — gross profit as a percent of sales — declined 1.6 percentage points to 47.7%.
Expenses also grew faster than revenue at HYBE, where cost of sales grew 25% while sales, general and administrative expenses climbed 32%. HYBE’s operating profit declined 8% as a result, while net income improved 19% despite a 21% growth in revenue.HYBE’s share price declined just 0.9% the day after the results were released; with a 38.9% gain year-to-date, its stock boasts the lowest appreciation of the four K-pop companies.