Samsung Electronics’ fourth-quarter profit slumps on sluggish demand for gadgets

Innovation

The tech giant reported a 35% year-over-year fall in fourth-quarter operating profit on Tuesday, marking the Samsung’s sixth-straight quarter of declining profits.
A Galaxy Z Fold 5, left, and Z Flip 5 a smartphone on a screen at the IFA Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances trade fair in 2022.
KRISZTIAN BOCSI/BLOOMBERG

Samsung Electronics, a bellwether for the tech world, estimated its operating profit fell 2.8 trillion won (USD$2.13 billion) in the October-December period amid weak demand for consumer electronics, which has been crimped by high inflation.

The world’s largest maker of smartphones and TVs forecasted revenue of 67 trillion won, down 4.9% from the previous year. Samsung Electronics will release full quarterly results on January 31.

Shares of Samsung Electronics, led by executive chairman Lee, closed down 2.35% Tuesday.

Still, some investors believe Samsung Electronics’ earnings could get a boost from the AI frenzy. Its shares are up some 24% over the past 12 months, more than double South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index.

One potential area for growth is in smartphones. On Wednesday next week, Samsung Electronics is expected to announce its next flagship smartphone, which will be its first device with built-in generative AI.

Another area is in memory chips, of which Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest maker. High bandwidth memory (HBM) is a next-generation type of DRAM, a memory chip that enables devices to multitask, and is targeted for use in AI systems.

Samsung claims on its website that it was the first to commercialize HBM for high-performance computing. Investor enthusiasm for HBM pushed up the shares of Hanmi Semiconductor, which makes equipment for HBM chip production, more than 100% over the past six months and made its CEO a billionaire.

“The Memory Business will expand the sales portion of highly profitable automotive products and HBM3 mass-volume business for major customers, in line with growing demand for generative AI,” Samsung Electronics said in its third-quarter report.

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