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Samsung profits down as smartphone growth flattens

Samsung profits down as smartphone growth flattens

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Samsung Electronics' profits dropped slightly over its first financial quarter of 2014, as the Korean electronics giant failed to avoid the global trend of slowing smartphone growth. Quarterly revenues grew from 52.87 trillion won to 53.68 trillion won ($52.04 billion) year over year, but profits dipped to 8.49 trillion won ($8.23 billion), down from 8.78 trillion won in Q1 2013.

As usual, the bulk of the company's money came from smartphone and tablet sales, which were flat-to-down year-over-year, reflecting what Samsung calls "lower demand due to weak seasonality." Next quarter, it expects to see only a "slight increase" in demand when compared to the corresponding period in 2013. While the market for smartphones appears to be flat, the mobile division is still extremely profitable. Samsung's cash pile increased to almost $60 billion this quarter — that's up from around $43 billion this time last year.

In addition to uninspiring mobile and tablet performance, the company's TV and display panel revenues were both slightly down. The only area that saw meaningful growth is Samsung's semiconductor division. Revenues rose by 9 percent and profits grew a massive 82 percent year-over-year, primarily due to stronger sales of memory. The semiconductor business accounted for 17 percent of Samsung Electronics' overall revenue last quarter.

Samsung may rein in its marketing budget

The Galaxy S5 launched after the end of this financial quarter, and Samsung took the opportunity to reassure investors that it expects to see the new smartphone outsell its previous flagship, the Galaxy S4. Moving forward, Samsung hinted that it may look to rein in its enormous marketing budget to improve efficiency as the smartphone market reaches saturation. While it's unlikely Samsung will change its tactics massively, the company is looking to promote its products more directly in upcoming campaigns, rather than spend big on general brand awareness.