Samsung Elec profit likely at 2-year high after Huawei chip orders, phone recovery


SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s third-quarter profit likely jumped 58% to its highest in two years, beating analyst estimates as U.S. restrictions on China’s Huawei boosted the South Korean tech giant’s phone and chip sales.

U.S. action against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has dampened demand for its phones outside of China, giving a leg up to Samsung, analysts said, while the Chinese firm also hurried to order more chips from Samsung after Washington moved to choke its access to commercially available chips from mid-September.

Samsung said on Thursday operating profit was likely 12.3 trillion won ($10.6 billion) for the three months ended September, well above a Refinitiv SmartEstimate of 10.5 trillion won. It would be the strongest result since 17.57 trillion won in the third quarter of 2018.

Revenue likely rose 6% from the same period a year earlier to 66 trillion won, the company said.

Samsung released only limited data in Thursday’s regulatory filing ahead of the release of detailed earnings figures later this month.

“It seems Huawei’s impact on Samsung’s chip business was bigger than the market expected, and there was a big surprise in the smartphone and home appliance businesses,” said CW Chung, head of research at Nomura in Korea.

MOBILE PROFIT BOOST

Samsung was expected to post its biggest smartphone profit in at least four years, analysts said, as it gained market share from Chinese rivals and the coronavirus pandemic helped cut marketing costs.

Washington, which says Huawei is a vehicle for Chinese state espionage, has tightened restrictions on the firm, hurting demand for Huawei phones in Europe and other countries and boosting Samsung’s sales at a time when markets outside China are recovering from COVID-19 lockdowns, analysts said.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen on a dish washer at its store in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

“Many consumers were reluctant to buy Huawei phones because they thought that Huawei may discontinue phone sales and services because of U.S. restrictions,” Tom Kang, an analyst at Counterpoint said, adding that Samsung has boosted sales of mid- and low-end phones.

A surge in anti-China sentiment in India following a border clash in June is also seen as providing a boost to Samsung, which competes with Xiaomi and other Chinese rivals there.

Samsung’s home appliance business also got a lift from the pandemic lockdowns, which spurred consumers to spend more on appliances such as air purifiers.

CHIP PRICES BOTTOMING OUT

Samsung shares were trading up 0.2% in afternoon trade in a slightly firmer overall market, with analysts pointing to memory chip prices and the uncertain Q4 outlook for the muted response.

Analysts doubted whether Samsung’s fourth-quarter profit could beat the third, as memory chip prices are seen bottoming out and a new Apple iPhone model is expected on the market.

U.S. rival Micron Technology Inc, which posted a market-beating quarterly profit last month, forecast lower-than-expected sales in the following quarter, as it had not yet obtained new licenses needed to sell its memory chips to Huawei.

Market researcher Trendforce expected DRAM chip prices to decline by about 10% in the year-end quarter, as demand from the server industry has yet to make a noticeable recovery.

This comes even as Huawei rivals like Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo are all urgently stocking up on key components, in turn providing some support for the mobile DRAM chip market, Trendforce said.

($1 = 1,157.3700 won)

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Richard Pullin

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