Samsung's booming mobile business helped the manufacturer report a 98% surge in profits as new research suggests the Korean company has overtaken Nokia as the world's largest handset vendor.
The manufacturer reported profits of 5.85tr won (£2.8bn) for the quarter ending 31 March, an all-time high and up 98% on 2011. Sales were up 22% to 45.27tr won (£24.6bn). Samsung said 'solid growth' in its mobile communications business contributed to its profits, particularly sales of the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Note.
Operating profit for the IT and mobile communications business was 4.27tr won (£2.3bn), up 193% on 2011, on sales of 23.22tr won (£12.6bn), which increased by 70% on last year. Mobile sales were 18.90tr won (£10.3bn), up 86% on last year.
Looking ahead, Samsung said it plans to debut new 'high-end smartphones' and target the emerging markets. The Korean manufacturer will unveil the long-awaited successor to the Galaxy S II next Thursday in London.
Samsung senior VP and head of investor relations Robert Yi said: 'Despite difficult business environments including seasonal low demand for major products such as PCs and TVs amid a global economic slowdown, we achieved record quarterly results based on our differentiated products and technology leadership. We cautiously expect our earnings momentum to continue going forward, as competitiveness in our major businesses is enhanced.'
Meanwhile, research from Strategy Analytics said Samsung has become the world's largest handset manufacturer in volume terms. In the first quarter of 2012, it shipped 93.5 million units, up from 68.9 million last year. Nokia's shipments declined by 24% annually to 82.7 million, meaning the Finnish manufacturer dropped to second place. Apple was third, almost doubling its shipments to 35.1 million.
Strategy Analytics' executive director Neil Mawston said: '[Nokia's] volumes were squeezed at both ends, as low-end feature phone shipments in emerging markets stalled and high-end Microsoft Lumia smartphones were unable to offest the rapid decline of Nokia's Symbian business. Nokia was the world's largest handset vendor between 1998 and 2011, for 14 years, before finally yielding top position to rival Samsung this quarter.'
The research said overall handset shipments grew by 3% annually to reach 368 million units during the quarter.
Editor: Graeme Neill