Samsung Electronics said on Thursday it expects earnings to bounce back in 2020 after a fourth-quarter slump, helped by a gradual recovery in memory chip demand from data center customers and 5G smartphone makers.
The cautiously optimistic outlook from the world's biggest memory chip and smartphone maker draws a line under its worst year since 2015. It also echoes positive guidance from peers like Intel Corp and TSMC, signalling a rebound in chip prices after a lengthy slide.
The South Korean conglomerate reported operating profit of 7.16 trillion won ($6.13 billion), down 34% and in line with its own previous estimate. Net profit fell 38% to 5.2 trillion won, with revenue easing 1% to 59.9 trillion won — also meeting estimates.
"Looking ahead to 2020, Samsung expects improvements in overall business performance but also sees continued uncertainties in the global business environment," Samsung said in a statement. It didn't identify particular issues that could affect its operations.
The United States and China reached an initial deal late last year to resolve a long-running trade row that had disrupted global business, though some issues remain unresolved. Samsung rival Apple earlier this week used a wider-than-normal prediction range for a revenue forecast citing uncertainty created by the coronavirus outbreak in China which economists fear could hurt the global economy.
For first-quarter 2020, Samsung said it expected earnings to fall reflecting low seasonal demand.
Fourth-quarter operating profit more than halved to 3.45 trillion won in Samsung's mainstay chip division, while mobile division profit improved nearly 67% to 2.52 trillion won.
Samsung said the pace of 5G smartphone expansion and its effects should be monitored closely, but the company sees demand picking up around mass-market models as major manufacturers expand their 5G lineups.
Shares fell 1.4% by 0125 GMT, trailing the wider market's 0.6% drop. Samsung shares rallied 44% last year, as expectations of an easing of U.S.-China trade tensions fueled hope of a rebound in the chip industry.