Posted on Saturday, Oct 27 2012 on 12:00 AM
SEOUL: South Korean technology powerhouse Samsung Electronics Co posted a fourth straight record quarterly profit of US$7.4bil, with strong sales of its Galaxy range of phones masking sharply lower sales of memory chips.
The record run, though, is likely to end in December, with profit growth slowing even more next year as TV markets stagnate and growth in high-end smartphones eases from the recent breakneck speed. Profit is expected to grow 16% next year, down from a forecast 73% this year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“The biggest concern for Samsung is that its smartphone growth momentum will slow. It'll be difficult to maintain such a high profit margin from handsets as the market gets crowded and competition will intensify,” said Nam Daejong, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities.
Reporting just hours after rival Apple Inc, Samsung said that JulySeptember operating profit almost doubled to 8.12 trillion won, in line with its earlier estimate. Net profit rose to 6.56 trillion won.
Samsung sold 56.3 million smartphones in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC, giving it a global market share of 31.3% more than double that of Apple, which said it sold 26.9 million iPhones.
Samsung said it would book patent-related provisions once a US court rules on its litigation with Apple. A US federal jury said in August Samsung had copied key features of the iPhone, awarding Apple US$1.05bil in damages. Apple has since asked for a further US$707mil, and the California court is set to rule on that in early December.
“The amount of provisioning will be fixed according to the US court ruling, and the costs will be set aside this quarter only if there's a ruling within the current quarter,” said Robert Yi, head of Samsung's investor relations.
While Samsung outsells Apple in gadgets, the South Korean group's market value is just a third of the US firm's US$578bil, and investors question whether it can narrow that gap as the stellar handset business is set to lose steam and Apple, also its biggest customer, looks to spread its supplier base wider.
“Samsung has a lot of strong businesses like tablets, OLED TVs and microprocessor chips that could become its next big thing and step it up to the next level,” said Lee Suntae, analyst at NH Investment & Securities. “But these aren't fully ready to become a real earnings driver like the Galaxy.”
Illustrating the might of Samsung's handset business, third-quarter profit from the mobile division more than doubled to 5.63 trillion won 69% of total group profit. Samsung is estimated to have shipped 18 million to 20 million S IIIs in JulySeptember. - Reuters