South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> said it was on track to beat market forecasts with a record first quarter profit thanks to a strong recovery in its flagship semiconductor business and robust TV sales.
Better-than-expected demand for personal computers and limited supply growth by smaller players have lifted prices of Samsung's bread-and-butter memory chip prices, raising expectations for record profits this year and pushing its shares to an all-time high this week.
But Samsung faces growing risks later this year, as it and rivals increase investments in flat-panel displays and chip businesses, which could derail the recovery in the technology sector.
The second-quarter operating profit can even beat the first quarter's at around 4.5 trillion won. Mobile phones and TVs will see a seasonal increase in demand while DRAM prices will remain stable. Only LCD and NAND businesses will weaken in the second quarter, said Song Myung-sup, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities.
I believe earnings would peak in the third quarter, but there's risk that DRAM prices' strength may continue and hit demand growth. DRAM supplies will also grow more toward the second half.
Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips and flat screen TVs, estimated its January-March consolidated operating profit at a record 4.3 trillion won ($3.83 billion), higher than a consensus forecast of 4.1 trillion won polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Samsung's estimated operating profit would come at between 4.1-4.5 trillion won, while sales were seen at 34 trillion won range between 33-35 trillion won.
The estimated quarterly operating profit would mark around seven-fold increase under a newly introduced K-IFRS accounting rules Samsung is using from this year, versus a revised 59 billion won profit a year ago when its memory chip swung into a deep loss due to the industry's worst-ever downturn.
It also compares with revised fourth-quarter operating profit of 3.44 trillion won under the K-IFRS rules.
Samsung, which overtook Hewlett-Packard
Shares of Samsung, which is valued at around $110 billion, opened up 0.2 percent at a new record 872,000 won, having risen by almost a fifth in the past five weeks.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast)