Samsung Fights Back As Profits Climb 14%

Samsung has posted better than expected profits for the first quarter after an early release for its new Galaxy smartphones helped boost sales for high-end models.

The South Korean electronics firm said earnings rose to 5.3tn won (£3.2bn) in the January-March period, 14% higher than the same period last year. Group sales climbed 6% to 49.8tn won (£30bn).

It comes after rival Apple reported the first ever year-on-year decline in sales of its iPhone handsets.

The profits boost for Samsung comes after a tough period when it has been squeezed by competition from iPhones at the higher end of the market and cheaper Chinese models at the other.

Samsung launched the latest version of the Galaxy on 11 March, about a month earlier than its new phones launch last year.

The updated Galaxy G7 models included new features such as expandable storage space and water resistance but were cheaper than previous versions.

Lee Kyeong-Tae, vice president of Samsung's mobile phones division, said market response to the Galaxy Edge model – with a curved screen – had been better than expected in major regions such as North America, China and the Middle East.

He said: "They are almost sold immediately upon supply."

Analysts said the early debut for the new models and Samsung's pricing strategy had helped boost sales during the quarter even though it had been a tough period for the iPhone.

Samsung's mobile division posted its biggest quarterly operating profit in nearly two years – up 42% from the same period in 2015 to 3.9tn won (£2.4bn).

Apart from its success with new high-end models, it saw better profitability from its lower-end models after streamlining that part of the business.

Industry data suggests Samsung's overall smartphone sales actually fell 1% year-on-year but this compared to a 16% decline for Apple.

Operating profit for the firm's chip division fell as prices were hit by falling demand for personal computers.

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