Samsung flags one-third drop in Q4 operating profits

Samsung Electronics' operating profits fell by more than a third in the fourth quarter, the world's biggest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips estimated on Wednesday.

Samsung was hit by a series of difficulties in 2019, with chip stockpiles bloating and prices falling, in contrast to the booming market of previous years.

The premium smartphone market has also grown fiercely competitive with buyers waiting longer before upgrading to new models.

But the figures beat expectations, analysts said, with chip demand starting to improve and strong smartphone sales.

The forecast represented a relative improvement -- in each of the first three quarters of 2019 net profits fell by more than half year-on-year.

Samsung Electronics is crucial to South Korea's economic health. It is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates known as 'chaebols' that dominate business in the world's 11th-largest economy.

(with news agency inputs)