Samsung's first-quarter operating profit soars, posts highest results since 2013

Samsung holds back details about each business division's performance until it posts the finalised earnings report later this month.

Previous year it had to pull its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones because their batteries were exploding. A few months later, its de facto heir and several top executives were charged with crimes linked to a political scandal that toppled the country's president.

"The second quarter sales are likely to grow 13 percent on-year to around 57.6 trillion won as operating profits are expected to be 12.1 trillion won, up 49 percent", Lee said. It beat market expectations of about 9.4 trillion won.

Samsung said its first-quarter sales rose only modestly, to 50 trillion won. Lee, who was arrested in February, has been charged with paying almost $40 million to the now-impeached president's close friend Choi Soon-Sil, allegedly as bribes to secure policy favours. Prosecutors allege the money was given to obtain government backing for a contentious merger of two Samsung companies in 2015 that served as a key step in passing corporate control to Lee from his ailing father.

Millions of South Koreans taking part in weekly street rallies demanding Park's removal have also called for the arrest of the tycoons involved in the scandal, including the leaders of Hyundai, SK and Lotte. Special Prosecutor Park Young-Soo said in his opening statement that Lee's case is "one of the most deep-rooted and typical cases involving unhealthy relations between politicians and businessmen".

Samsung Electronics is headed for its best quarterly profit margin in three years, despite its deputy chairman going on trial over corruption allegations.

Analysts said strong demand for mobile chips and displays for smartphones fueled the stellar profit during the typically slow season for smartphones and television sets.

Samsung, in a regulatory filing, said its January-March profit was likely 9.9 trillion won (US$8.76 billion), compared with an average forecast of 9.4 trillion won from a Thomson Reuters survey of 18 analysts. However, there will be a sense of uncertainty initially among buyers whether they should bet on S8 or not owing to the disaster of Galaxy Note 7.

  • Arturo Norris