Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of handsets, memory chips, televisions and flat screens, estimated Tuesday that its operating profit hit a new record quarterly high in the fourth quarter due mainly to brisk sales of Galaxy smartphones.
The preliminary operating profit unveiled by Samsung was estimated at a fresh record high of 8.8 trillion won (8.28 billion US dollars) in the October-December period, up 88.8 percent from a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement.
The figure topped the previous record high of 8.06 trillion won tallied in the prior quarter. Samsung saw its operating profit breaching the previous high for five straight quarters.
Sales were estimated at 56 trillion won in the three months ending Dec. 31, up 18.4 percent from a year before. The figure breached the previous record high of 52.18 trillion won in sales tallied in the prior quarter.
Samsung did not unveil its estimate for net profit and a breakdown of each division. The final results will be announced later this month after auditing and the approval of board of directors.
Market watchers expected the record-breaking earnings, citing solid demand for Galaxy smartphones.
"Samsung benefited from sluggish sales of Apple's iPhone 5. Samsung's brisk smartphone sales boosted its business of display panels that are used in Galaxy smartphones. Memory chip price hike also helped enhance its earnings,"Choi Seong-je, an analyst at SK Securities in Seoul, said in a report before the release.
Daewoo Securities estimated Samsung's fourth-quarter smartphone shipments to have reached around 62 million units, including 15 million units of the Galaxy S3 and 12 million units of the Galaxy Note2. The brokerage house raised its fourth-quarter growth estimates for DRAM and NAND businesses to 14 percent and 24 percent each.
Meanwhile, Samsung logged a combined operating profit of 29.01 trillion won in 2012, up 85.8 percent from a year before, and topping the previous record high of 17.3 trillion won tallied in 2010.
Sales posted a fresh record high of 201.05 trillion won in 2012, up 21.9 percent from the prior record high of 165 trillion won in sales for 2011.
Samsung's 2012 smartphone shipment was estimated at 210 million units last year, up 117.2 percent from a year before, according to a HMC Investment & Securities estimate. Tablet PC sales were estimated at 17 million units in 2012, up 183.4 percent from the prior year.
"Samsung is expected to sell 350 million smartphones in 2013. It was up 66.7 percent from the estimated figure for 2012. Assuming that the global smartphone demand grows to 860 million units this year, Samsung's market share would reach 40.8 percent in 2013,"said Greg Roh, an analyst at HMC Investment & Securities in Seoul.