While the mobile phone division has replaced Samsung's semiconductor business as the biggest profit generator, robust demand for smartphones around the world is benefiting Samsung's semiconductor operation as well. The company is the world's largest supplier of TVs and memory chips.
Analysts said Samsung's semiconductor division fared better in the last quarter than the quarter before as higher Samsung phone sales and launches of new mobile products by its customers lifted demand for Samsung's mobile processors.
In the first quarter of this year, market watchers said the strengthening of the South Korean currency against the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen could hurt Samsung's component businesses, which is facing seasonally weak demand for TVs and display panels. But others predict Samsung will ship more smartphones than the previous quarter, which could outweigh lower TV and panel sales.
The South Korean company has been in global legal battles with Apple, one of its biggest clients, for nearly two years. Last month, Samsung dropped its bid to seek a sales ban against Apple's mobile products in Europe, saying it would like to protect consumer choice. Samsung, which is under investigations by the European Commission over its practice of licensing key mobile patents, is maintaining its lawsuits against the iPhone maker in other countries.
Shares of Samsung Electronics fell 1.3 percent in Seoul after earnings release. Samsung's shares, which gained 11 percent in the fourth quarter, hit a record high level earlier this month.
If Samsung's fourth quarter results are in line with Tuesday's guidance, the company will report 29 trillion won ($27.3 billion) operating profit on revenue of 201.1 trillion won ($189 billion) for 2012.
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