Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest maker of memory chips and smartphones, estimated Friday it had posted a record operating profit of 5.8 trillion won ($5.15 billion) in the first quarter of the year.
The preliminary estimate for the January-March period marked a 96.6 percent rise from 2.95 trillion won a year earlier, and a 9.4 percent gain from the previous quarter, the company said in a regulatory filing.
The preliminary estimate beat a market consensus of 5.24 trillion won surveyed by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency.
Its first-quarter sales rose 21.7 percent on-year to reach 45 trillion won, said the company, which did not provide a net profit estimate.
Shares of Samsung Electronics were trading at 1,322,000 won on the Seoul bourse as of 10:05 a.m., down 0.6 percent from the previous session's close. The first-quarter earnings guidance was released before the market opened.
The better-than-expected business performance was driven by hefty sales of its flagship Galaxy smartphone series and the Galaxy Note, a mini-tablet, analysts said.
"It's an earnings surprise," said Choe Sung-je, an analyst at SK Securities. "Samsung shares will continue to rise for the time being."
Analysts said both smartphone shipments and profit growth were much stronger than expected.
Global sales of the Galaxy S II reached 20 million in about 10 months since it went on sale, and Samsung sold more than 5 million units of the Galaxy Note since sales began in October.
Samsung expects to sell 10 million units of the device by the end of this year.
Analysts said the earnings outlook for Samsung Electronics is bright as the world's largest memory chipmaker is also seeing a recovery in the chipmaking sector after Japan's Elpida Memory filed for bankruptcy.
"Samsung's first-quarter results were better than expected, and its bottom line will continue to improve on the back of a recovery in chip prices and steady sales of smartphones and other high-end devices," said Lim Dol-ri, an analyst at Solomon Investment & Securities.
Analysts estimated operating income for the second quarter at more than 6 trillion won. (Yonhap)