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LG Elec Shares Jump on Fourth-Quarter Earnings Hopes

Shares in LG Electronics jumped as much as 7 percent on Friday amid market talk the world's fifth-largest mobile phone maker would post better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings.

LG Electronics, which ranks behind Nokia, Samsung Electronics, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, has said it expected to sell more than 80 million handsets in 2007 and aims for more than 100 million for 2008.

"Optimism is growing that LG's fourth-quarter profits would come out even better than expected, thanks to brisk handset sales and the strong turnaround in its display business," said Kevin Lee, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.

"The bullish earnings momentum is likely to last well into 2008."

According to an average forecast of nine analysts surveyed by Reuters Estimates, LG is expected to earn a 384 billion won ($409.9 million) net profit in the October-December quarter, up more than 80 percent from a year earlier.

In December, Citigroup singled out LG as its top pick in the Korean technology sector in 2008, citing stronger-than-expected shipments and operating margins for mobile phones and improvements in plasma displays.

LG Electronics, which is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 24, was up 5.64 percent at 103,000 won, compared with the wider market's 0.83 percent rise.