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Samsung Electronics' Q1 guidance slightly below forecasts

SEOUL, April 8 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd estimated that its January-March operating profit fell by 4.3 percent to 8.4 trillion won ($7.96 billion) as easing smartphone sales growth continued to weigh earnings down.

The guidance, released ahead of full quarterly results likely to be announced by April 25, was slightly lower than an average forecast of 8.5 trillion won by 40 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. This marks the second consecutive quarter of declining annual operating profit.

The South Korean firm estimated its first-quarter sales at 53 trillion won, compared with a market forecast of 54.58 trillion won.

($1 = 1055.4000 Korean Won)

(Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Paul Tait)