Samsung reports surge in Q1 profits; sees further gains

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Tuesday projected a surge in its first quarter operating profit to near-record levels, and said it expected further gains in the coming two quarters. The world's largest semiconductor and flat-screen TV maker is headed for double-digit growth on the back of a strong recovery in the technology sector.

The company said in a statement that it expects operating profit of between 4.1 trillion won and 4.5 trillion won ($4 billion) for the three months ended 31 March. That would be at least seven times the 590 billion won profit for the same period last year and might top its record of 4.2 trillion won for the third quarter of 2009.

Samsung gave no reasons for the strong first quarter performance and spokeswoman Hwang Eun-ju said it would explain when it releases results at the end of this month.

Operating profit is seen as a direct indicator of business performance before taxes, dividends, asset sales and other items that are figured into net profit or loss. Samsung had net earnings of 620 billion won in the first quarter of 2009. It does not release net profit forecasts.

Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, is the world's largest manufacturer of flat screen televisions, computer memory chips and liquid crystal displays and the second-biggest maker of mobile phone handsets after Finland's Nokia Corp.

Samsung last month predicted a strong 2010 as economic growth in advanced and large developing economies gains speed. The company said it is aiming for double-digit percentage growth from last year's record high sales of 136.3 trillion won.