Samsung sees fifth successive record quarter

City A.M. Reporter
KOREAN electronics giant Samsung, the world leader in mobiles and memory chips, said it had earned a quarterly profit of $8.3bn (£5.2bn), as it sold close to 500 handsets a minute and as demand picked up for the flat screens it makes for mobile devices, including those for rival Apple products.

That run of five straight record quarters may end in January-March on weaker seasonal demand, though a strong pipeline of smartphones – the South Korean group's biggest earner – and improving chip prices have eased concerns that earnings growth could slow this year, powering Samsung shares to record levels last week.

Samsung has outpaced Apple – its biggest rival and biggest customer – despite the US firm’s launch of the latest iPhone 5, with sales momentum boosted by its Galaxy Note II phone-cum-tablet, or “phablet”, in the fourth quarter. iPhone 5 sales were a little below expectations.

While Apple rolled out just a single new smartphone last year globally, Samsung bombarded the market with 37 variants tweaked for regional and consumer tastes, from high-end smartphones to cheaper low-end models. By comparison, Taiwan’s HTC released 18 models and Nokia nine.

Yesterday, Samsung said it was “planning something exciting” for next month’s Mobile World Congress trade show. This is expected to be the next high-end Galaxy S smartphone, which has emerged as the leading contender to the iPhone.