Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world's top maker of memory chips and flat screen TVs, reported record quarterly results, powered by robust demand for chips and flat-screen TVs.
Analysts expect Samsung, also the world's No.2 handset maker, behind Finland's Nokia, to beat its record first-quarter profit in the coming quarters, as it rides a broad global technology recovery.
Increased investments by Samsung and its rivals in the panel display and chip business, however, threaten to restart the industry's chronic oversupply cycle, and its weak footing in the hot smartphone market could also curb earnings growth.
Samsung is planning a record 19.3 trillion won spending in semiconductors until 2011 to raise output and has started placing equipment orders, as it fails to meet soaring customer demand, a local newspaper reported on Friday.
Samsung, which has said it would keep investment flexible and would consider raising this year's spending, declined to comment ahead of a earnings conference call starting at 0100 GMT.
We are cautiously optimistic second-quarter earnings will improve, due to continued strong memory chip markets, favorable LCD panel demand and increased sales of set products such as mobile handsets and TVs, Samsung said in a statement.
Samsung competes with Sony Corp and LG Electronics in flat-screen TVs and Toshiba and Hynix in semiconductors.
The South Korean technology powerhouse reported a 4.4 trillion won ($3.95 billion) operating profit in January-March, beating a consensus forecast for a 4.27 trillion won profit by 13 analysts from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The result was also better than Samsung's median estimate of 4.3 trillion won in a range of 4.1 trillion to 4.5 trillion won given earlier this month.
The results improved from a 590 billion won operating profit a year earlier and 3.44 trillion won earned in October-December.
Sales rose to 34.6 trillion won from 28.7 trillion won a year ago.
By 0055 GMT, shares in Samsung, South Korea's biggest company and Asia's most valuable technology company with around $107 billion market value, rose 1.8 percent to 840,000 won. The stock is up 5 percent so far this year, broadly in line with the KOSPI's 4 percent rise.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Anshuman Daga)