By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest technology company by revenue, estimated Friday that it posted a record 8.1 trillion won (US$7.3 billion) operating profit in the third quarter as solid smartphone sales continued to boost its margin.
Unless the estimate misses the mark, the July-September period will be Samsung's fourth straight quarter of reaping a record operating profit.
The preliminary estimate for the three-month period marked a 90.6 percent surge from 4.3 trillion won a year earlier and a 20.5 percent gain from the previous quarter, the company said in a regulatory filing.
The figure beat a median forecast of 7.6 trillion won by 26 securities companies polled by market researcher FnGuide.
Samsung's third-quarter revenue jumped 26 percent on-year to reach a record 52 trillion won, passing the 50 trillion won mark for the first time, the company said. A net profit estimate and reasons for the operating profit estimate were not provided.
The rosy outlook comes as Samsung, which is scheduled to unveil its quarterly earnings later this month, is facing off with Apple Inc. to vie for the US$219 billion global smartphone market.
The two top smartphone makers, who are both partners and rivals in the industry, have been embroiled in a bitter patent war in courtrooms across four continents.
While a local court found both companies infringing each others' mobile patents, a U.S. federal jury overwhelmingly sided with Apple in an Aug. 24 verdict, ordering Samsung to pay $1.05 billion in damages.
Despite the legal bruises, analysts said brisk shipments of mobile devices, such as the flagship Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, and the successful launching of the Galaxy Note 2 phablet led the company to estimate a consensus-beating result. A phablet is a mix between a smartphone and a tablet computer.
Galaxy S3 shipments are estimated at 18 million units for the third quarter, while smartphone shipments and overall mobile device shipments are projected to reach 59 million and 106 million units, respectively, according to an Oct. 2 report by IBK Securities Co. analyst Lee Seung-woo.
"We believe the IT & Mobile (IM) division contributed the most to the upbeat results by generating around 5.3 trillion of the total operating profit," Jeff Kang, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co., said by phone.
"Samsung's mobile business is likely to continue its boom until the second quarter of 2013 as the global smartphone market is still growing, especially in emerging markets," said Kang, shrugging off concerns over slowing demand and legal issues with Apple.
Meanwhile, analysts said quarterly business results of the company's semiconductor and consumer electronics business dimmed the IM division's stellar performance.
"We trimmed out semiconductor outlook on deeper DRAM Price declines and consumer electronics earnings on margin erosion due to slowing TV sales growth and higher marketing costs," said Seo Won of Korea Investment & Securities Co., noting an 8 percent on-quarter decline in DRAM prices.
Analysts, however, painted a rosier outlook for the semiconductor division as a recovery in the chip industry gains traction.
"End-year stock adjustments may weigh on the IM division, while an improvement in the semiconductor division is likely to keep Samsung's overall fourth-quarter operating profit flat or drive it higher," said Kang.
Shares of Samsung Electronics were trading at 1,367,000 won on the main Seoul bourse as of 9:46 a.m., unchanged from the previous close.
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