Samsung signals weaker earnings despite 5G focus

Samsung has warned of weaker earnings in 2019 despite its plans to launch 5G smartphones and grabbing 5G network deals this year.
Samsung tech team workersSamsung shipped 291.3 million smartphones in 2018 to earn 20.4 percent share. Apple has shipped 206.3 million for 14.4 percent share. Huawei shipped 205.8 million smartphones for 14.4 percent share, Strategy Analytics said.

Samsung is offering foldable phones and 5G-capable devices this year at MWC 2019. Its new flagship Galaxy series will be unveiled next month, but no date has been set for the launch of the foldable device.

Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow from 2 million units in 2019 to reach 1.5 billion in 2025, the latest research from Strategy Analytics said.

Samsung said overall smartphone sales would remain flat this year though average prices will rise as more devices were built with expensive features like multi-cameras.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC, said: “The arrival of both 5G and foldable devices later this year could bring new life to the industry depending on how vendors and carriers market the real-life benefits of these technologies.”

The latest IDC report said the price of 5G smartphones available in select markets will be higher as displays, chipsets, and radios will bring additional cost to phone makers such as Samsung.

Telecom carriers and retailers will need to maximize trade-in offers for older devices as a type of subsidy to push upgrades throughout 2019, IDC said. Verizon announced the launch of two 5G smartphones from Samsung.

The absence of 5G iPhone from Apple is unlikely to assist Samsung in the early stage of 5G smartphone penetration, analysts say.

The South Korean giant has been struggling to defend its top rank in the global smartphone market against competition from Chinese rivals like Huawei, which last week said it could overtake Samsung this year, Reuters reported.

Samsung is also at the forefront of several 5G network deals in key markets including the US. Samsung is trying to grab market share from Huawei and ZTE because of the possible ban on their 5G network.

But most of the telecom operators are now making investment in fiber as part of the 5G push. Most of the orders for 5G equipment will be realizing this year. T-Mobile US signed two $3.5 billion 5G network deals with Ericsson and Nokia.

Samsung said its total revenue dipped 10 percent to 59.3 trillion won or $53.26 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 and operating profit dropped 29 percent to 10.8 trillion won or $9.7 billion.

The global market leader in computer chips and smartphones said it expected overall annual earnings to decline this year, although sales of memory products would begin to revive in the second half.

The South Korean firm’s chips power smartphones of most major handset makers, including Apple and China’s market leader, Huawei Technologies. Its memory and processor chips account for about 72 percent of overall profit.

Fourth-quarter operating profit for Samsung’s chip division fell 29 percent to 7.8 trillion won, the company said. Its mobile division logged a 1.5 trillion won profit, down 38 percent from a year ago.

Baburajan K