Samsung's systems chips business is also trying to grow its customer base following a weak 2014. Some analysts say the business lost more than $1 billion last year on declining sales of Galaxy smartphones and the loss of a contract to supply the processor for Apple's iPhone 6.
Samsung's next Galaxy S smartphone is widely expected to be powered by its own Exynos processor chips after Qualcomm acknowledged that a key customer won't use its Snapdragon mobile chip in a flagship device.
Samsung has declined to comment on that, but another individual familiar with the matter said the proportion of next-generation Galaxy S phones powered by Exynos chips will likely increase from previous versions.
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A successful launch of the new device could help win more external orders, and bolster profits. Samsung said late last month it was in talks with third-party customers about supplying its Exynos mobile processors.
"Some of Samsung's components businesses and other affiliates were too dependent on the captive (in-house) market," said IM Investment analyst Lee Min-hee. "There's been a general shift in direction, with the businesses looking to make external sales and diversify the customer base."
Weak mobile business
Samsung's mobile profits for October-December dropped 64 percent from a year earlier, as Galaxy S5 sales disappointed and rivals like China's Xiaomi became increasingly competitive. Analysts don't expect any smartphone turnaround as margins remain squeezed.
Nomura and other brokerages, though, have raised their 2015 earnings forecasts for Samsung, betting on improved contributions from component sales. As smartphone competition heats up, Samsung should benefit from better demand for components such as chips and panels.
The system chip business in particular is expected to be a catalyst. Local media reports and analysts say Samsung is likely to win back the Apple contract and supply the majority of mobile processors for the next iPhone.
Display sales, too, should provide an additional boost this year as the business expands its external customer base. Daewoo Securities tips 2015 operating profit to more than double to 1.7 trillion won ($1.55 billion) from last year.
"We're starting to hear talk that Samsung's annual profit could actually increase this year, contrary to the market consensus before the fourth-quarter results were announced, and I think that will be the case as well," said Park Jung-hoon, a fund manager at HDC Asset Management, which holds Samsung shares.