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Samsung posts worst quarterly profits in 14 years from chip downturn

Operating profit nosedived by 96% year-on-year. Here's why.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer
Samsung flags
Photo by Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Samsung said on Friday in its earnings guidance that it recorded 63 trillion won in revenue and 600 billion won in operating profit for the first quarter of 2023.

Operating profit nosedived by 96% year-on-year and is the South Korean tech giant's lowest profit figure in 14 years since the first quarter of 2009 during the global financial crisis. Revenue also dropped by 19% from a year ago.

Also: LG beat Samsung in operating profit for the first time in 14 years

South Korean analysts expect Samsung's chip business to have posted heavy losses of billions of dollars during the first three months of the year. Other memory chipmakers Micron and SK Hynix have also recorded heavy losses in their latest quarters.

In a statement on Friday, Samsung said the macro situation and slowdown of consumer demand caused the drop in memory chips from the previous quarter. The tech giant also said earnings from logic chips and display panels also dropped over the same time period. 

The downturn in the chip market started last year during the second half but so far only worsened as chipmakers have warned early this year that the situation was worst than they expected and they were lowering their chip production output -- an extremely rare move that reflects how dire the situation is.

Also: The best Samsung phones you can buy

On Friday, Samsung also confirmed that it was reducing its chip production output for the "short term" but also added that it expects demand for chips to be solid in the long term. 

Despite the plunge in overall operating profit, Samsung's mobile business is expected to have performed strongly during the first quarter thanks to the launch of the Galaxy S23 Series.

The South Korean tech giant said on Thursday that the series was performing better than the Galaxy S22 across all regions of the world since the launch, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra being especially popular and accounting for 60% of sales.

Analysts expect the downturn of the chip market to continue for at least up to the second quarter of this year when Samsung's chip business is again expected to record losses.

Samsung is expected to announce its full earnings at the end of the month.

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