SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Samsung Electronics' fourth-quarter operating profit hit a new high due to solid Galaxy smartphone sales and improved earnings in semiconductor business.
Operating profit was 8.84 trillion won (8.26 billion U.S. dollars) in the three months ended December, nearly double from a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing on Friday. It was the highest in its history, and posted the record-breaking earnings for five straight quarters. The reading was in line with the preliminary figure estimated by Samsung.
Sales increased 18 percent to 56 trillion won, and net income surged 76 percent to 7.04 trillion won.
The mobile-phone division made a 5.44 trillion operating profit, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the total in the quarter, thanks to rising demand for the Galaxy devices. The chip- making unit saw its profit rise due to demand for high-margin products and rising PC DRAM prices.
Samsung posted a record profit "thanks to strong smartphone sales and rising PC DRAM prices amid tight supply as well as solid mobile DRAM demand," Kim Young-chan, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said in a report before the earnings announcement.
The South Korean company sold 63.5 million smartphones in the three-month period, up 9.6 percent from three months before, according to Kim's estimate. Samsung doesn't provide shipment figure. Kim expected Samsung's smartphone sales to increase 48.6 percent to 320 million in 2013.
Samsung's flagship Galaxy S 3 smartphone topped 40 million shipments just seven months after its launch in May 2012, becoming the fastest-selling smartphone yet, it said Jan. 14. Sales of the Galaxy Note 2 phone-table device breached 5 million as of November last year.
Operating profit in the semiconductor business rose to 1.42 trillion won in the fourth quarter as revenue rose 10 percent on demand for high-margin products such as server chips, 20-nano NAND flash chips and solid state drives (SSDs), Samsung said.
Amid the seasonally weak demand for PCs and mobile devices, demand for memory chips would be stifled in the first quarter, but Samsung said demand for logic products and NAND solutions will remain strong throughout the year.
Samsung's display division, which makes TV panels, posted a 5 percent decline in the operating profit from the prior quarter due to slowdown in notebook and monitor panel demand. The company forecast demand for large-size TV panels and tablet panels will continue to be strong throughout the year of 2013.
The consumer electronics division boosted operating profit by 87 percent in the fourth quarter from three months earlier due to strong organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, TV sales both in developed and emerging markets.
For the whole of 2012, Samsung's operating profit jumped 86 percent to 29.05 trillion won. Sales increased 22 percent to 201.1 trillion won, and net income advanced 73 percent to 23.85 trillion won.