UPDATE 1-Samsung puts lid on capex for 1st time since financial crisis

Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:36pm EST
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* Q4 operating profit at record 8.84 trln won, meets guidance

* Mobile division profit more than doubles to 5.44 trln won

* Keeps 2013 capital spending at 2012 level

* Samsung shares up 12 pct in 3 months; Apple down over 20 pct

SEOUL, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co turned cautious on spending for the first time since the global financial crisis, keeping its annual investment plan unchanged at 2012 levels, as demand for computer chips wanes and the smartphone market slows.

Samsung, one of the industry's most aggressive spenders, has ramped up capital expenditure every year since 2004 except 2009 to meet soaring demand for its array of mobile devices. It sold a record 700,000 smartphones a day in the last quarter.

But with the personal computer market shrinking for the first time in 11 years, the global smartphone market growing more slowly, and Apple Inc moving to buy fewer of Samsung's microprocessors used in the iPhone and iPad, the South Korean IT giant is now forced to keep a lid on spending.

Samsung, which posted a record October-December profit on Friday, said it would keep spending this year at a level similar to 2012, without giving details. The company said previously it planned to spend 25 trillion won ($23.39 billion) in 2012.   Continued...