SEOUL Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), the world's top maker of memory chips and handsets, estimated its October-December operating profit at a record 8.8 trillion won, as solid demand recovery in sleek flat screens used in mobile devices added to robust profit growth in smartphones.
Following are reactions from analysts and fund managers:
KIM HYOUNG-SIK, ANALYST, TAURUS INVEST & SECURITIES
"Samsung shares will drop a bit in January, but rebound in February with expectations for the Galaxy IV, which is likely to be released in April or May.
"I don't think earnings will dip much in the first quarter and I expect operating profit to be around 8.5 trillion won. For the whole year (2013), I forecast operating profit to be 37.8 trillion won."
KIM SUNG-SOO, FUND MANAGER, LS ASSET MANAGEMENT
"Investors expected Samsung to post strong profit, and the guidance offers the opportunity for them to take profits.
"Investors are a bit concerned that Samsung's momentum may slow in the first half after posting a series of record profits. The smartphone market is unlikely to sustain its strong growth, as advanced markets are nearing saturation despite growth in emerging countries.
"This year, Samsung will cement its lead in smartphones. Eyes are on whether Apple will launch new models to grab more market share from Samsung, and Samsung will be able to play catch-up in the tablet PC market where it still lags Apple.
"Smartphones are a key profit driver for Samsung, and chips and other businesses are unlikely to post a strong recovery because of the weak global economy."
KIM SUNG-IN, ANALYST, KIWOOM SECURITIES
"I think Samsung's smartphone sales and profit growth rate will not slow this year. I expect its smartphone sales to reach 320 million and tablet PCs around 32 million, double last year's 16 million."
"Although the seasonal demand is weak in the first quarter, I expect Samsung's total sales will exceed 53 trillion won and operating profit to be around 8.3 trillion won because of demand for semiconductor and IT products. Sales this year are expected to be 230 trillion won and operating profit 37 trillion won."
AN SEONG-HO, ANALYST, HANWHA INVESTMENT & SECURITIES
"Both sales and operating profit were in line with market estimates. Samsung's fourth-quarter performance is seen owing a lot to its smartphone and tablet sales.
"This year, Samsung's earnings are expected to get better in the second half, while its share price is seen higher in the first half."
SONG MYUNG-SUB, ANALYST, HI INVESTMENT & SECURITIES
"Samsung's Note was selling well, boosting its fourth-quarter profit, while Apple's iPhone 5 sales were less than expected.
"Samsung's profit will drop in the current quarter because of decreased phone profits. Samsung will launch its next Galaxy S model only in March or April so without new models Samsung's phone sales prices will fall in the current quarter.
"For the whole year, Samsung will launch new models faster than Apple and will continue to have the upper hand in the smartphone market." (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, Joyce Lee, Narae Kim and Daum Kim; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)