Samsung Electronics posted KRW 65.98 trillion (~$61.7 billion) in consolidated revenue and KRW 15.15 trillion (~$14.5 billion) in operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2017.
Overall, the company reported full-year revenue of KRW 239.58 trillion (~$224 billion) and full-year operating profit of KRW 53.65 trillion (~$50.2 billion).
Fourth quarter earnings were driven by the components business, with the largest contribution coming from the Memory business that manufactures DRAM and NAND, as orders for high-performance memory products for servers and mobile storage were strong. However, weak seasonality impacted growth for the System LSI and Foundry businesses.
The Display Panel business, which manufactures OLED and LCD screens, saw increased shipments of OLED panels for premium smartphones, but profitability for LCD panels decreased due to weak seasonality, which dampened sales and ASP.
For the IT & Mobile Communications Division (IM), earnings in the mobile business declined due to a hike in marketing costs under strong seasonality. Total smartphone shipments decreased due to the lineup optimization of low-end models, while shipments of flagship products, such as the Galaxy Note 8, increased from the previous quarter. In the network business, customers’ LTE investments concentrated in the first half, resulting in the weak earnings in the second half.
The Consumer Electronics Division, comprising the TV and home appliances businesses, posted gains for the quarter. TV earnings increased QoQ on increased sales of premium products including ultra large-size and QLED models. For home appliances, demand for high-end washing machines and ovens in North America and Europe was responsible for stronger revenue on a YoY basis.
As indicated in Samsung’s preliminary earnings announcement in early January, operating profit was affected by the appreciation of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies, with the impact amounting to approximately KRW 660 billion (~$617.3 million) QoQ. A one-off incentive paid to employees of the semiconductor division also affected earnings.
Looking ahead, the first quarter, despite being a traditionally slow season, is expected to show strong demand for memory products used in datacenters. Shipments of System LSI products are forecast to pick up, as orders for APs and image sensors for flagship devices are expected to improve.
The Display Panel business in the first three months of the year is likely to face challenges such as intensified competition from LTPS LCD vendors and seasonally weak LCD demand. In spite of this, Samsung will try to improve profitability by increasing the high-end LCD portion of screens and enhancing productivity of flexible OLED panels, among other measures.
In the first quarter, the company expects the mobile business to improve its earnings, led by an increase in sales of flagship products with the launch of Galaxy S9. Samsung’s TV business will be affected by weak seasonality, but is aiming to be profitable by expanding sales of premium products and pushing for the early release of new models. Meanwhile, the Digital Appliances Business will focus on achieving growth by increasing sales of premium products and strengthening marketing.
In 2018, demand for NAND is likely to remain strong and market conditions are forecast to be stable. Samsung will expand 64-layer V-NAND production mainly at its Pyeongtaek plant. As for DRAM, the company expects solid demand growth due to new datacenter builds and will increase product competitiveness by expanding 10nm-class process migration. As for Foundry, Samsung will lead the technological process leadership with a risk production of 7-nano.
For the Display Panel business in 2018, the company expects OLED to become a mainstream panel in the smartphone industry and will reinforce its competencies in new applications such as foldable, automotive, and IT displays. In the case of LCD panels, it will focus on meeting the market’s needs for ultra large-size and high-resolution TVs and strengthening partnerships with strategic customers.
For Mobile in 2018, the company will pursue earnings growth by increasing premium products sales and maintaining profitability of mid-range to low-end products. The Networks Business plans to expand the supply of network solutions for 5G commercialization to major markets including Korea, the U.S., and Japan.
For the CE Division this year, sales of ultra large-size TVs will continue to grow as the global market gears up for major international sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics. The Digital Appliances Business is expected to improve earnings by expanding its B2B business and online sales.