Samsung Electronics posted its first quarterly profit gain in five and forecast higher earnings this year on demand for flat-screen televisions and chips for music players.
Fourth-quarter net income rose 40 percent from a year ago to 2.6 trillion won ($2.6 billion), while sales climbed 12 percent to 15.5 trillion won, Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung said today. Profit beat the 2.3 trillion won median estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg
Samsung said earnings will rise this year as the soccer World Cup and new software for downloading music and movies spur demand. The world's biggest maker of liquid-crystal displays and memory chips predicted industry sales of LCD TVs will jump 61 percent and demand for chips used in devices such as the iPod will triple.
Profit from Samsung's LCD business jumped 40-fold to 400 billion won as sales climbed to 3 trillion won, in line with analysts' estimates. LG.Philips LCD Co., Samsung's nearest rival in LCDs, yesterday posted a ninefold increase in fourth-quarter profit.
Samsung is counting on sporting events to spur sales of larger flat-panel TVs this year, prompting the company to raise its LCD industry shipment forecasts for this year. The 64 games at the World Cup in Germany starting June 9 will draw an average of about 500 million viewers per match, according to estimates by FIFA, soccer's ruling body. The 2006 Olympic Winter Games will be held in Torino, Italy, from Feb. 10.
Samsung said its own shipments of panels used in TVs and computers will probably to rise 37 percent to 60 million units in 2006 as prices fall between 10 to 15 percent.
Demand for NAND flash memory chips, which are used in portable gadgets such as digital cameras, music players and mobile phones, will triple in 2006, the company said.
First-quarter sales of dynamic random access memory chips, which are mainly used in computers, will probably shrink from the fourth quarter amid a glut. Sales, measured in units known as bits, will rise 53 percent in 2006 as Microsoft's launch of its new Vista operating system later this year increases memory demand for computers, Samsung said.
Samsung, the world's third-largest mobile-phone maker after Nokia and Motorola, said fourth-quarter profit from telecommunications more than doubled from a year earlier. Fourth-quarter shipments rose 29 percent to 27.2 million units, Samsung said.
Total operating profit, which some analysts call a better indicator of the company's business than net income because it excludes earnings derived from subsidiaries, rose 40 percent to 2.1 trillion won.
For this year, Samsung said it will cut capital spending 8 percent to 9.2 trillion won this year and increase research expenditure 12 percent to 6.1 trillion won. Capital spending will fall 17 percent for LCDs and 11 percent for semiconductors, the company said.
Samsung has become the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, TVs and six other electronic products by outspending rivals on factories and research, aims to double sales and become the top producer of 20 products globally by 2010.