Smartphones power Samsung to record $4.5 bn net profit

South Korea's Samsung Electronics Friday posted a record net profit of 5.19 trillion won ($4.53 billion) in the second quarter, powered by strong smartphone sales despite the global downturn.

The company, the world's biggest technology firm in revenue terms, also reported a record operating profit in April-June of 6.72 trillion won.

The net profit represented a 48 percent gain from a year earlier while operating profit jumped 79 percent year-on-year.

Samsung cited robust demand for its mobile devices including high-margin smartphones, along with strong sales of ultra-thin displays.

Total revenue rose 21 percent to 47.59 trillion won, in a quarter that is usually quieter for technology companies.

Market researcher Strategy Analytics said Friday the Korean firm increased its share of the global smartphone market in the second quarter to 34.6 percent, compared to 17.8 percent for arch-rival Apple.

Samsung shipped 50.5 million smartphones, the largest number ever by any vendor in a single quarter, it said in a report.

"Samsung has been able to deliver hit models in most major price segments," Strategy Analytics noted, while Apple fans may be awaiting the launch of the next generation iPhone around September or October.

Samsung remained the world's biggest seller of all types of mobile handset in April-June with a 25.7 percent market share compared to Nokia's 23.1 percent.

The Korean firm said its differentiated products and competitive technology helped it overcome a difficult business environment, but struck a note of caution for the months ahead.

"As we move into the second half, continued fiscal instability in Europe and its effect on the global economy will result in the possibility of a slower than expected recovery and intensified market competition," said senior vice-president Robert Yi in a statement.

Analysts were more bullish, expecting an even better performance in coming quarters.

They said smartphone earnings -- which account for more than 50 percent of operating profit -- would remain a strong contributor to the bottom line.

"The mobile division, which alone will see an operating profit of 4.8 trillion won in the third quarter, was helped by sales of the Galaxy S III smartphone, and it will lead the firm's overall growth," said Y.B. Oh, an analyst at Hanmag Securities.

The company has sold more than 10 million Galaxy S III phones since its launch about two months ago.

Oh said the chip division would also register its biggest profit of around 1.6 trillion won in the third quarter, with prices expected to stabilise due to new product releases.

Kiwoom Securities analyst Kim Sung-In forecast likely overall operating profit of at least 7.7 trillion in the third quarter.

"I would sell Apple shares and buy Samsung. Samsung's operating profit margin also will exceed that of Apple in the next quarter," Kim said.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

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