Galaxy powers Samsung to record $8.3 billion profit
By Miyoung Kim and Hyunjoo Jin
SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics, the world leader in mobiles and memory chips, said it likely earned a quarterly profit of $8.3 billion, as it sold close to 500 handsets a minute and as demand picked up for the flat screens it makes for mobile devices, including those for rival Apple Inc products.
That run of five straight record quarters may end in January-March on weaker seasonal demand, though a strong pipeline of smartphones - the South Korean group's biggest earner - and improving chip prices have eased concerns that earnings growth could slow this year, powering Samsung shares to record levels last week.
The stock closed down 1.3 percent on Tuesday, in a Seoul market that fell 0.7 percent.
"Investors are a bit concerned that Samsung's momentum may slow in the first half. The smartphone market is unlikely to sustain its strong growth as advanced markets are nearing saturation despite growth in emerging countries," said Kim Sung-soo, a fund manager at LS Asset Management.
Samsung has outpaced Apple - its biggest rival and biggest customer - despite the U.S. firm's launch of the latest iPhone 5, with sales momentum boosted by its Galaxy Note II phone-cum-tablet, or 'phablet', in the fourth quarter. IPhone 5 sales were a little below expectations, analysts said.
While Apple rolled out just a single new smartphone last year globally, Samsung bombarded the market with 37 variants tweaked for regional and consumer tastes, from high-end smartphones to cheaper low-end models. By comparison, Taiwan's HTC Corp released 18 models, Nokia 9 and LG Electronics 24.
HTC on Monday said its fourth-quarter profit slumped more than 90 percent as its sales continue to trail those of the Galaxy range and the iPhone.
Samsung, valued at close to $230 billion, gave its October-December earnings guidance on Tuesday, ahead of the full earnings release expected by January 25. Continued...