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Samsung Electronics in Q4 one-third fall in operating profit

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People visit Samsung's booth during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the United States, Jan. 8, 2019. The annual CES kicked off Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Xinhua/Li Ying)

AFP – Samsung Electronics’ operating profits fell by more than a third in the fourth quarter, the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips estimated yesterday.

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Samsung was hit by a series of difficulties in 2019, with chip stockpiles bloating and prices falling, in contrast to the booming market of previous years.

The premium smartphone market has also grown fiercely competitive with buyers waiting longer before upgrading to new models. The figures beat expectations, analysts said, with chip demand starting to improve and strong smartphone sales. The forecast represented a relative improvement. In each of the first three quarters of 2019 net profits fell by more than half year-on-year.

Samsung Electronics is crucial to South Korea’s economic health. It is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebols, that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy. In an earnings guidance statement, Samsung Electronics projected operating profits in the October to December period at 7.1 trillion won ($6.1 billion), down 34.2 percent year-on-year. Sales were forecast to be flat at 59 trillion won, it added. For full-year 2019, it predicted operating profits of 27.7 trillion won, down 52.9 percent, on sales down 5.8 percent to 229.5 trillion won.

The company has been strained by a protracted trade dispute between China and the US and been caught up in a diplomatic row between Seoul and Tokyo over historical disputes, with Japan imposing tough restrictions on exports crucial to South Korean tech giants in July.

Samsung Electronics shares reached an intraday one-year high in Seoul yesterday and closed up 1.8 percent. The KOSPI index was down 1.1 percent.

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