SEOUL, Jan 30 (Reuters) - South Korean memory chipmaker SK Hynix Inc returned to a quarterly operating profit on Wednesday, helped by solid mobile component sales to Apple Inc and Chinese customers.
Hynix, which competes with bigger rival Samsung Electronics , Japan's Toshiba Corp and U.S.-based Micron Technology, reported 55 billion won ($50 million) in October-December operating profit, versus a 106 billion won loss a year ago.
The result, which comes after a small loss in the previous quarter, missed an average forecast of 123 billion won profit from 23 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, as weak sales of computer memory chips outweighed strong demand from mobile device makers.
It was also below a 93 billion won profit forecast by Thomson Reuters StarMine's SmartEstimate, which places more emphasis on timely projections from the most accurate analysts. Recent strength in the South Korean currency and disappointing sales of Apple's iPhone during the year-end holiday season were behind the lower forecasts in the SmartEstimate.
Apple became Hynix's largest customer last year and generates around 30 percent of the South Korean firm's revenue, according to analysts. The Cupertino California-based firm has widened its supplier base and moved away from its key supplier and rival Samsung.