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Samsung Smartphones, TVs Help Drive Strong 4Q Profits, Even as Rivals Falter

Samsung said Friday profits shot up in the three-month period through December, with a big boost from its burgeoning lineup of smartphones and tablets.

The Korean electronics manufacturer said it booked 4 trillion won (US$3.6 billion) in net profit, up 17 percent from a year earlier, while revenue rose 13 percent to 47.3 trillion won.

Samsung's products range from large-screen TVs to semiconductors, but its mobile division was the star of the latest quarter, generating nearly half of its operating profits.

The company cited strong performance in its Galaxy handset line and flat-screen TVs. Samsung said it will continue to broaden its smartphone lineup with both high-end models like the Galaxy S II and mass-market phones like the Galaxy Ace. It will also try to create new product categories, as with its Galaxy Note, a 5.3-inch mobile device with a stylus that it bills as something between a phone and a tablet.

"We are actually generating new demand in the Note category. That will be continued based on our hardware competitiveness with the addition of brand and user experience," said Younghee Lee, a vice president in the company's mobile division during the earnings call.

The Note launched in Europe late last year and is due out in the U.S. soon with AT&T. Samsung said it will continue to come out with devices that run on high-speed LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks, which it has been faster to embrace than rivals like Apple.

The company's success across a wide range of consumer electronics has come as many of its competitors attempting the same thing have faltered. Sony, which presents its quarterly earnings next week, is on course for a US$1 billion loss in its current fiscal year through March.

Samsung said that even with the strong showing over the holiday season, overall 2011 profit slipped 15 percent, weighed down by its large component businesses, which include DRAM and NAND flash memory as well as the LCD panels used in TV sets and monitors.

The quarterly earnings were in line with the guidance the company released earlier this month. Samsung's fiscal year coincides with the calendar year.

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