Samsung Electronics reported financial results for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2018. The Company posted KRW 65.46 trillion in consolidated quarterly revenue, up 5.5 percent from a year earlier, and KRW 17.57 trillion in quarterly operating profit, up 20.9 percent.
In the third quarter, operating profit reached a new quarterly high for the Company driven mainly by the continued strength of the Memory Business. Total revenue increased YoY and QoQ on the back of strong sales of memory products and OLED panels.
The Korean won remained weak against the U.S. dollar, resulting in a positive QoQ effect of approximately KRW 800 billion, experienced mainly in the components businesses. However the Korean won rose against major emerging currencies, which weighed slightly on the set businesses.
By business unit, the Semiconductor Business recorded higher earnings YoY and QoQ amid strong seasonal demand, particularly for server and mobile memory. While NAND and DRAM demand remained high, the Memory Business improved its earnings by concentrating on sales of premium products, improving yields, and ramping up production of high-density chips at its Pyeongtaek plant.
For the Display Panel Business, despite unfavorable supply-demand conditions in the LCD market, earnings improved on-year thanks to higher sales of flexible OLED panels to major customers. On a quarterly basis, earnings significantly grew due to increased utilization of flexible OLED panel capacity.
Amid intense market competition, the IT & Mobile Communications (IM) Division reported a drop in earnings despite solid sales of its flagship smartphones. Overall, its smartphone shipments remained flat due to a decrease in sales of mid- to low-end products. Profit was also down due to increased promotional costs and a negative currency impact.
For the Consumer Electronics (CE) Division, earnings improved both YoY and QoQ thanks to robust sales of premium TV products, such as QLED and ultra-large screen TVs of 75-inches and above.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Samsung expects overall earnings across the company to decline as it enters a period of weak seasonality for the semiconductor market.
For the components businesses, earnings from memory chips are expected to decline on weaker seasonality, but remain strong for OLED panels thanks to continued high demand from major customers.
Among the set businesses, although shipments of smartphones are forecast to rise, increased marketing expenses during the year-end peak season will affect profitability. Meanwhile, the Networks Business will look to cement its position at the forefront of 5G technology as it begins supplying 5G equipment; shipping to customers in North America and Korea in the fourth quarter.
The CE Division will benefit from strong year-end seasonality in the fourth quarter. It expects earnings to rise on the back of higher consumer demand for QLED TVs and premium home appliances.
Looking further ahead to 2019, earnings are forecast to be weak for the first quarter due to seasonality, but then strengthen as business conditions, particularly in the memory market, improve.
Moreover, Samsung will continue to focus on strengthening its competitiveness in emerging technologies, such as 5G, AI and automotive electronics. By doing so, the Company aims to sustain mid- to long-term growth based on its technological leadership as markets for these new areas expand.
Semiconductor Continues Earnings Momentum
The Semiconductor Business posted consolidated revenue of KRW 24.77 trillion and operating profit of KRW 13.65 trillion for the quarter.
The Memory Business achieved strong results as overall demand increased mainly for server and mobile.
For NAND, Samsung posted solid earnings by responding to continued robust demand for higher density products used in mobile and servers. For DRAM, demand for all applications increased QoQ amid peak seasonality while mobile demand was driven by new product launches and the trend toward higher densities for smartphones.
Looking at the fourth quarter outlook for NAND, price declines are forecast to continue amid increasing industry supply of 64-layer 3D NAND. In response, the Company will continue to enhance its product competitiveness and strengthen market leadership by focusing on the premium market for All-Flash-Array solutions and high-density UFS. Looking ahead to 2019, supply-demand conditions are expected to improve gradually as demand increases, mainly from the public cloud market, and mobile storage expands. Thus Samsung will actively respond to demand and focus on enhancing cost competitiveness through expansion of 5th-generation V-NAND.
As for the fourth quarter DRAM outlook, although prices may stabilize, overall memory demand is expected to remain solid. In response, Samsung will focus on achieving solid earnings by maximizing sales with a flexible product mix and by strengthening product competitiveness. Looking to 2019, while the memory market may slow down in the first quarter due to seasonal effects, supply and demand dynamics are forecast to stabilize from the second quarter thanks to an increase in overall demand, mainly from server and mobile. Samsung will solidify its technology leadership by expanding sales of differentiated products such as high-density server products, HBM2, and high-density MCP for mobile.
For the System LSI Business, overall earnings improved thanks to the growing demand for image sensors in China and for OLED DDIs used in flagship smartphones. In particular, the image sensor business achieved record-high quarterly results driven by greater adoption of multiple cameras and high-resolution sensors by smartphone makers.
Looking ahead, despite a likely rise in demand from products slated to launch next year, weak seasonality for mobile image sensors and DDIs is expected to dampen growth in the fourth quarter.
For 2019, Samsung expects solid earnings growth to continue, bolstered by rising demand for image sensors used in more sophisticated camera specifications. Additionally, Samsung plans to diversify its customer base in China and the U.S. by enhancing SoC competitiveness using 5G modem technology. The Company will also focus on diversifying its product line-up to include 3D sensors, fingerprint-on-display sensors, and chips used in automotive and IoT applications.
For the Foundry Business, earnings continued to grow QoQ thanks to increased demand for mobile APs and image sensors, despite a decline in demand for cryptocurrency mining chips. In particular, Samsung secured technological leadership in advanced processes by completing development and starting production of the EUV-based 7-nanometer process.
Looking to the fourth quarter, demand for mobile APs and image sensors is expected to decline amid weak seasonality for smartphone components.
In 2019, Samsung will focus on achieving solid results by ensuring a stable supply of major products—such as mobile APs and image sensors—and diversifying its customer bases in AI, automotive, and 8-inch areas. Additionally, the Company will strive to maintain its technology leadership through full-scale mass production of the 7-nanometer EUV process, and plans to expand its customer base by more than 30 percent.
Display Improves on Demand for Flexible OLED
The Display Panel segment posted KRW 10.09 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 1.10 trillion in operating profit for the third quarter. Total earnings for the Display Business increased QoQ due to increased shipments of both OLED and LCD panels.
For the OLED business, improved QoQ earnings were led by increased demand for flexible displays from major customers. For the LCD business, a slight improvement in earnings QoQ was driven by an increase in shipments of value-added products, such as panels for high-resolution and ultra-large screen TVs.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Samsung expects solid demand to continue in the OLED business and will therefore focus on enhancing technical differentiations in flexible panels and improving productivity of rigid panels. The LCD business, however, is likely to face unfavorable supply and demand dynamics due to ongoing capacity expansions in the industry and weak seasonality. Thus, Samsung will strive to secure profitability by improving yield and increasing sales in high-end, value-added products.
In 2019, the OLED business will look to expand into new product categories by continuing to offer technologically differentiated products and to broaden the customer base with flexible panels. Samsung will also aim to further its leadership by enhancing the technical readiness of new applications for foldable, automotive and IT displays. Additionally, the OLED business will seek to reinforce partnerships with major smartphone manufacturers and improve cost competitiveness to ensure continued growth.
For the LCD business, due to uncertainties caused by capacity expansions in the industry, Samsung will focus on growth in value-added products such as Quantum Dot, 8K resolution and ultra-large screen TVs.
Mobile Profit Declines Despite Solid Flagship Sales
The IT & Mobile Communications Division posted KRW 24.91 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 2.22 trillion in operating profit for the quarter.
Although Samsung achieved solid sales of flagship models in the quarter, its total smartphone shipments remained flat due to decreased sales of mid- to low-end products. Overall profit for the division decreased on-quarter due to increased promotional costs and a negative currency impact. Earnings for the Networks Business also decreased on-quarter, following the concentration of LTE investments from major overseas carriers in the first half.
Looking to the fourth quarter, Samsung expects its smartphone shipments to rise during the year-end peak season, particularly for its enhanced mass product lineup including the new Galaxy A7 and A9. However, earnings are forecast to decrease due to increased marketing expenses. For the Networks Business, Samsung aims to supply 5G equipment to major advanced markets, i.e. the U.S. and Korea.
As for the outlook for 2019, smartphone market demand is expected to slightly grow mainly driven by premium segments. However, competition is likely to intensify across all segments as key features of premium models continue to expand to mid- to low-end models.
Samsung will strive to expand sales of premium smartphones through differentiated design and a diversified lineup. The Company will also solidify its market leadership by adopting cutting-edge technologies across its entire Galaxy lineup, including the Galaxy A series. Moreover, Samsung will strengthen its competitiveness in the mid- to long-term by leading innovation with the launch of foldable and 5G smartphones as well as enhancing its Bixby-based AI and IoT services.
The Networks Business will proactively respond to growth in the 5G market in 2019 by expanding its business to other markets, based on its experience of commercializing 5G in the U.S. and Korea.
Consumer Electronics Rises on QLED TV Sales
The Consumer Electronics Division, including the Visual Display and Digital Appliances businesses posted KRW 10.18 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 0.56 trillion in operating profit for the third quarter.
Earnings for the Visual Display Business improved both YoY and QoQ thanks to increased sales of premium products such as UHD and ultra-large screen TVs. In particular, QLED TV sales tripled YoY thanks to favorable market feedback for picture quality and differentiated features such as Ambient Mode and One Invisible Connection.
Looking to the fourth quarter, the Company projects the TV market to grow slightly YoY. Samsung will aim to strengthen its leadership in the premium TV segment by preemptively capitalizing on year-end peak season demand through close partnerships with distributors and by extending sales of strategic products such as QLED and ultra-large screen TVs.
In 2019, overall TV market demand is expected to remain the same as this year. Samsung will seek to improve profitability by solidifying its leadership in the premium market with QLED and ultra-large screen TVs while expanding sales of QLED 8K TV and reinforcing its lineup of ultra-large TVs of 75-inches and above.
For the Digital Appliances Business, earnings decreased slightly YoY despite increased sales of premium products such as Chef Collection refrigerators and Flex-Wash washers, amid economic slowdowns in emerging markets.
In the fourth quarter, although market demand may decline due to the global trade issues and foreign exchange risks in emerging markets, Samsung will focus on strengthening regional peak-season promotions through partnerships with distributors and continue to increase sales of premium products such as large size dryers and Air Cube air purifiers.
Looking ahead to 2019, Samsung will focus on improving profitability by releasing innovative premium products, expanding online sales, and strengthening its B2B business with built-in appliances and system air conditioners.
※ Consolidated Sales and Operating Profit by Segment based on K-IFRS (2017~2018 3Q)
Note 1: Sales for each business include intersegment sales
Note 2: CE (Consumer Electronics), IM (IT & Mobile Communications), DS (Device Solutions), DP (Display Panel)
Note 3: Information on annual earnings is stated according to the business divisions as of 2018
Note 4: From Q1 2018, earnings from the Health & Medical Equipment Business (HME) are excluded from the CE Division