First-quarter outlook upbeat for Samsung, SK hynix

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, the world’s top two memory chip makers, are projected to post record first-quarter earnings this year over rising chip prices and robust demand, Yonhap Infomax, a local financial data tracker, said Monday.

According to earnings consensus among securities firms here, Samsung, the No. 1 producer of memory chips, is forecast to record 75.21 trillion won ($61.34 billion) in sales and 13.89 trillion won in operating profits in the three months of this year, up 15.02 percent and 38.64 percent from a year ago, respectively.

Since its quarterly sales hit the 70 trillion won mark for the first time in the third quarter last year, Samsung is extending the winning streak for the third consecutive quarter.

The first-quarter earnings are expected to slightly decline due to a fall in chip prices, compared to 76.57 trillion won of the fourth quarter last year. But the figure is still the highest-ever for the firm’s first-quarter earnings.

Even though Samsung still struggles to tackle several internal challenges, including performance throttling issues of its latest Galaxy phones and its low foundry yield rates compared to rivals, analysts said the firm’s near-term challenges would be outpaced by favorable market conditions.

“In the first quarter, DRAM and NAND flash chips saw a price fall 6.2 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, less severe than expected,” Eo Kyu-jin, an analyst at DB Financial and Securities, said. “The newly launched Galaxy S22 is also expected to help improve profits of the mobile business division.”

Roh Geun-chang, research center head at Hyundai Motor Securities, echoed the view, projecting Samsung’s smartphone shipment in the first quarter at 74.5 million units, an 8.7 percent jump from the previous quarter.

“Due to last year’s production suspension at its Austin plant in the US, its foundry sales would see a 24.1 percent surge, outpacing the industry average,” he said.

Analysts predicted another record year for Samsung, with its sales exceeding 300 trillion won for the first time.

Its smaller rival SK hynix, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of memory chips, is also expected to deliver upbeat first-quarter earnings, with the figure exceeding the 10 trillion won for the first time.

The firm is projected to post 11.58 trillion won in sales in the first quarter this year, a jump 36.36 percent from a year earlier. Its operating profits, in particular, are expected to more than double to 3.13 trillion won from a year ago.

“Starting from the second quarter, the memory chip market will turn to a seller’s market,” said Park Yoo-ak, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities. “In the second quarter alone, SK hynix’s revenue and operating profits to surge to 14 trillion won and 4 trillion won, respectively.”

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