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Samsung Electronics may post 3.5 trillion won in profit for Q3

Samsung Electronics, Asia’s largest technology company, pulled off record earnings last year, but its revenue and operating income for 2011 might underperform heightened expectations, analysts said on Friday.

Samsung posted an operating profit of 17.3 trillion won ($14.7 billion) on revenue of 154.6 trillion won, helped by strong demand for its computer memory chips. This year, however, signs are less optimistic as the chip sector remains sluggish and the prices of display products continue to slump, a mix of two negative factors that threatens to hurt Samsung’s bottom line.

The tech giant’s third-quarter operating income is estimated at around 3.5 trillion won, which means it has to achieve upward of 7 trillion won in operating profit in the final quarter to outperform its 2010 results.

Samsung is set to give its guidance on the third-quarter earnings on Oct. 6 amid growing attention about its performance at a time when the South Korean economy confronts more threats stemming from global market jitters and questions about a timely resolution to the eurozone’s debt crisis.

Samsung said on Friday its first-half revenue reached 76.4 trillion won and operating income stood at 6.7 trillion won. Compared with the year earlier period, revenue rose 5.4 percent but operating profit tumbled 28.9 percent.

The company’s revenue growth in the first six months is expected to be relatively solid, but the drop in the prices of LCD panels and semiconductors has eroded into its operating profits.

Local brokerages issued a flurry of third-quarter earnings estimates for Samsung, with the focus placed on whether the company could post more than 3.5 trillion won in operating income on revenue of about 42 trillion won.

Mirae Asset Securities cited the sales volume of smartphones to raise its operating income estimate from 2.9 trillion won to 3.5 trillion won for the third quarter.

LIG Investment & Securities projected that Samsung’s revenue would reach 42.2 trillion won and its operating income would hover at around 3.4 trillion won.

Kyobo Securities set the estimated revenue at 40.3 trillion won and operating income at 3.4 trillion won.

Daewoo Securities was more optimistic when it comes to Samsung’s third-quarter revenue as it projection was 44.1 trillion won.

UBS, citing the worsening market conditions in the chip and LCD sectors, revised down the company’s third-quarter operating profit from 3.8 trillion won to 3.4 trillion won.

For the fourth quarter, Samsung has to post 7 trillion won in operating profit on revenue of 35 trillion won in order to beat its own record last year.

Analysts, however, warned that the company’s fourth-quarter operating income might be less than 5 trillion won as long as the chip and LCD sectors are trapped in the current slump. A more optimistic scenario is that Samsung’s operating income in the October-December period might receive a much-needed boost if the chip and LCD prices bottomed out and revenues from smartphone grew faster than expected.

By Yang Sung-jin (insight@heraldcorp.com)
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