April 28, 2017 12:50
Korean exporters of parts and materials for mobile phones and other gadgets as well as chemicals and steel are achieving record-high earnings.
Samsung Electronics said Thursday that first-quarter revenues totaled W50.6 trillion, while operating profit stood at W9.9 trillion (US$1=W1,134). That was its second-highest operating profit ever.
The smartphone division achieved an operating profit of only W2.07 trillion, or half of what it earned a year earlier, due to the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, but the semiconductor division posted a record operating profit of W6.3 trillion. Samsung Display also made a W1.3 trillion operating profit.
No. 2 memory chipmaker SK Hynix saw operating profit grow fourfold compared to the first quarter last year, and LG Display's operating profit rose above W1 trillion for the first time ever.
Booming semiconductor and display earnings are expected to continue at least until next year as demand continues to rise faster than supply amid an absence of major global competitors.
Samsung and SK together account for 60 percent of the global semiconductor market, while Samsung and LG dominate the global market for large TV panels and OLED screens for smartphones. One industry source said, "Thanks to proprietary technology, a surge in the availability of cheaper Chinese products is having virtually no impact."
Chemical firms and steelmakers also posted higher-than-expected earnings. SK Innovation achieved its third-highest operating profit ever in the first quarter at over W1 trillion.
LG Chem's sales surpassed W6 trillion for the first time, while quarterly operating profit was the highest in six years. POSCO earned W1.2 trillion just from steel product sales during the first quarter.
The bumper results have improved overall export figures. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, exports in the first quarter rose 14.9 percent on-year, the fastest rate since the third quarter of 2011. Exports of semiconductors (up 44.7 percent), displays (up 20 percent) and petrochemical products (up 38.3 percent) led the rise.
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