Do Samsung's Q1 Results Hint at Broader Smartphone Slowdown? (AAPL)

April 26, 2013 11:51 AM EDT
Electronics giant Samsung reported Q1 results earlier Friday, potentially showing some signs of weakness.

Samsung reported sales of 52.87 trillion won with operating profit of 8.78 trillion won and net profit of 7.15 trillion won. Numbers top internal expectations by the company issued in April, calling for revs of 52 trillion won and operating profit of about 8.7 trillion won.

Revs slipped 6 percent and operating profit fell about 1 percent from the prior quarter.

Samsung said its IT & Mobile Communications (IM) Division, which runs its Mobile Communications, Networks, and Digital Imaging businesses, turned a profit for the quarter on sales of 32.82 trillion won, up 7 percent over last quarter. Specific sales numbers weren't broken down, but the company said it , "maintained a steady pace of Galaxy SIII sales and improved sales of Note II, etc."

Samsung sees "weak seasonality" in smartphones at all levels.

Year-over-year results for Samsung's Display Panel unit showed an 8 percent dip in revs to 7.11 trillion won, while profit of 77 billion won improved.

While Samsung and Apple, Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) have been in litigation recently, Apple is said to have been looking to exit Samsung as a supplier for certain key parts and components. It will be interesting to track Samsung's Display Panel and Semiconductor businesses over the next few quarters to gauge the sort of impact an Apple exit is having.

Additionally, given the breadth of the markets that Samsung operates in, some might speculate that smartphone and mobile device sales are getting choppy. Even Apple's most recent quarterly results evoked nothing too much more than a "harumph!" from traders and analysts. But, a sharper downturn in the traditionally slow first-quarter might hit at potential market saturation, or the need to start a larger conversion of feature phone users into smartphone users.

Samsung largely utilizes Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android for its smartphone software. Competitors like BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY), Nokia (NYSE: NOK), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) are hoping lower sales are more of a Samsung-specific event, rather than an industry issue.

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