Samsung Electronics made a record $5.2 billion profit in the first quarter, overhauling Nokia as the world’s top mobile phone seller, and its Galaxy smartphones outstripped Apple’s iPhone at the high end of the market.
The South Korean group’s handset division shifted more than 20,000 Galaxy phones an hour in the quarter and contributed most of its operating profit.
That company’s shares hit a lifetime high after the results, pushing its market value to $190 billion, 11 times that of Japanese rival Sony, though still only a third of Apple’s, the world’s most valuable company.
Samsung sold 93.5 million handsets in the quarter, more than one in every four sold, according to Strategy Analytics, toppling Nokia from the top spot after 14 years. The total included 44.5 million smartphones, giving Samsung a 30.6 per cent share of the high-end market. Apple’s sales of 35.1 million iPhones gave it a 24.1 per cent share.
Samsung’s quarterly handset division profits nearly tripled to 4.27 trillion won ($3.8 billion), accounting for 73 per cent of total profit, and operating margins jumped to 18.4 per cent from 12 per cent in the preceding quarter on strong sales of the Galaxy S and the Note phone/tablet, the surprise consumer hit of recent months. January-March operating profit nearly doubled to 5.85 trillion won and was up from 5.3 trillion won in the previous quarter, sending Samsung shares to a life high of 1.38 million won ($1,200). The shares closed up 2.5 per cent. Samsung’s OLED unit contributed around 400 billion won of profit in the first quarter, more than offsetting losses from the LCD operation.