Samsung Electronics logged a record profit of $10.0 billion for the third quarter and announced a sweeping reshuffle of its top management on Tuesday, seeking to maintain its lead while its heir is in prison.
The world’s biggest memory chip and smartphone maker has faced multiple challenges since last year, including a humiliating recall of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 handsets and a corruption scandal that engulfed its de facto leader.
Samsung Electronics announced today the Company’s Shareholder Return Program for 2018-2020, which includes significant enhancements in dividend policy and is set to deliver long-term value for its shareholders.
The program builds on the previous Shareholder Value Enhancement Program it announced in 2015 that was well received by the market, and reinforces the Company’s commitment to creating shareholder value and returning significant capital to its shareholders.
- The Company will increase annual dividends in 2017 by 20 percent, which will be followed by a 100 percent rise in dividends in 2018. The 2019 and 2020 dividends will be kept at the same level with 2018.
- This will translate into approximately 29 trillion won of total dividend returns in the 2018 to 2020 period which will provide shareholders with a more transparent and predictable return profile.
- Future M&A investments will not be deducted from free cash flow (FCF). This policy change will increase the amount of capital available to return to shareholders and result in greater transparency and predictability. The portion of FCF allocated for shareholder returns will be set at minimum 50 percent over the three year period.
- After dividend payouts, any remaining portion of the 50 percent of FCF available for shareholder returns will be used either for additional cash dividends or share buybacks as deemed appropriate.
Following the introduction of the three-year shareholder return initiative in 2015, Samsung Electronics has made significant enhancements to its shareholder return policy, returning more than 10 trillion won in the form of dividends and 20 trillion won in share buybacks. In April 2017, the Company also cancelled 50 percent of its treasury shares worth approximately 20 trillion won in market value.
The Company’s share price has more than doubled since the beginning of 2016, a validation of our shareholders’ approval of the improvements in our shareholder policy and confidence in the steps the Company is taking. Samsung Electronics remains committed to delivering sustainable shareholder value and will continue to enhance long-term value creation.
But its net profits for July to September soared 148 percent on the same period a year ago — its best for any quarter — it said in a statement, thanks to strong demand for its memory chips and a recovery in smartphone sales with the roll-out of the new generation Galaxy Note 8.
The figures come only two weeks after chief executive Kwon Oh-Hyun resigned, saying the South´s biggest firm was facing an “unprecedented crisis” and its current profitability was “merely a fruit of decisions and investment made in the past”.
The firm described Tuesday’s numbers as an “overall robust performance”.
Operating profit nearly tripled on-year to 14.5 trillion won — also a quarterly record — it said in a regulatory filing, while sales surged to 62.05 trillion won, another all-time high.
Samsung Electronics is the key subsidiary of the sprawling Samsung Group, whose heir Lee Jae-Yong was found guilty in August of bribery, perjury and other charges stemming from payments to the secret confidante of ousted president Park Geun-Hye.
Lee, who was jailed for five years, says he is innocent and is appealing.
Samsung Electronics also announced Tuesday the first major reshuffle in its top leadership since 2014, when the wider group´s chairman Lee Kun-Hee suffered a heart attack that left him bedridden.
Samsung Electronics replaced each of the three co-CEOs who lead its semiconductor, mobile and TV units with younger executives, while chief financial officer Lee Sang-Hoon — known to be close to the founding Lee family — was named chairman of the board, succeeding Kwon.
It is the first time the company has separated the roles of board chairman and CEO, it said — a standard recommendation to improve corporate governance.
Samsung’s profits and share price have rocketed this year, as global chip prices have soared amid booming demand for the high-powered processors used in handsets, computers and cloud storage servers.
It said separately it would double its dividends in 2018, and confirmed a further share buyback for the fourth quarter.
The firm provides memory chips for PCs, servers and mobile gadgets including those belonging to industry rivals including Apple, with the “component business” helping the firm cushion a fall in sales of its own devices.
Samsung has sustained and widened its lead in the market partly by investing massively in building and expanding semiconductor factories, often faster than its competitors.
Its investment in infrastructure, mostly on chip plants, will reach a whopping 46.2 trillion won just for this year, compared to 25.5 trillion won in 2016, it said.
The firm operates the world´s biggest semiconductor plant in the city of Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometres (44 miles) south of Seoul, and is upgrading or expanding many of its production lines there and elsewhere.
Such aggressive investment has stoked concerns that increased supply may drive down prices and eventually dent the firm´s own profits in subsequent quarters.
But senior vice-president Chun Se-Won told a conference call: “We are looking at a longer-term horizon… with a goal of boosting our business capabilities for the next two or three years and beyond.”
Samsung shares rose 1.92 percent to close at 2.75 million won on the Seoul stock market.
Kim Yang-Jae, analyst at KTB Investment & Securities, said profits would rise further in the fourth quarter, with global semiconductor prices continuing to rise into next year.
“Samsung´s display unit would also see profits grow as it supplies panels to Apple´s iPhone X,” Kim said, forecasting a new record operating profit of 15 trillion won in the fourth quarter.
3Q consolidated operating profit reaches KRW 14.53 trillion
Samsung Electronics today announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2017. Samsung’s revenue for the quarter was KRW 62.05 trillion, an increase of KRW 14.23 trillion YoY, while operating profit for the quarter posted a record KRW 14.53 trillion, an increase of KRW 9.33 trillion YoY.
In the third quarter, strong demand for high-performance memory chipsets for servers and flagship mobile devices was a contributing factor to the company’s overall robust performance. The Semiconductor Business registered significant earnings growth both YoY and QoQ, and the System LSI added to the earnings rally through increased sales of DDIs and image sensors. The display panel segment posted an earnings decline despite the expanded sales of flexible OLED panels for premium smartphones. The Mobile Business saw strong shipments thanks to the launch of Galaxy Note 8 and solid sales of the new Galaxy J series, but its earnings declined QoQ due to the higher sales proportion of mass-market smartphones.
The Memory Business achieved strong earnings results for the quarter on the back of high seasonal demand for all memory applications, the trend toward higher density chips and a continuation of favorable supply and demand conditions and prices. For NAND, the launch of flagship smartphones and the expansion of cloud infrastructure drove strong demand. For DRAM, demand for applications used in servers, mobile devices, PCs and game consoles also remained solid.
For the OLED business, an increase in shipments of flexible displays for customers’ new flagship smartphone launches drove an increase in sales. However, QoQ earnings declined due to an increase in start-up costs of the new OLED production line and increased competition within rigid OLED products. For the LCD business, third quarter earnings declined, as an imbalance in supply and demand led to a decrease in the ASP of LCD panels. Further, capacity expansion in the LCD industry continues to impact prices.
The Mobile Business saw smartphone shipments increase on the back of the global roll-out of the newly launched flagship, Galaxy Note 8, and solid performance of the new Galaxy J series. However, overall revenue and earnings decreased QoQ due to the higher sales of mid- to- low tier models.
Samsung’s TV business saw significant improvements in QoQ earnings driven by increased sales of premium products including QLED TVs. However, due to the higher cost of LCD TV panels and weakening demand of the TV market, YoY earnings were modestly lower.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, the company anticipates tight supply and demand conditions to continue for the Memory Business due to strong demand for servers and mobile devices. For the Display Panel segment, increased shipments of flexible OLED products and the release of new rigid OLED panels will improve earnings. However, the LCD segment will be met by weak seasonality, coupled with expanded panel supply. For the Mobile Business, the company will try to maintain solid earnings by increasing flagship sales through the global roll out of the Galaxy Note 8. Meanwhile, the Digital Appliances Business expects to continue revenue growth by ramping up sales of new products including washing machines with QuickDriveTM technology and POWERstick PRO vacuum cleaners. The TV business will focus on increasing sales of premium products including QLED and ultra-large screen TVs.
Moving on to business prospects for 2018, the company expects earnings to grow primarily from the component businesses, as conditions in the memory market are likely to remain favorable and the company expects increased sales of flexible OLED panels. For the Memory Business, demand for high-density, high-performance NAND will increase, as the need for larger data capacity in servers and mobile devices grows.
The company expects positive growth in the DRAM market, due to the development of technologies in big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, in which faster processing and analysis of data are critical. The technological advancement of mobile devices with dual camera, 3D sensors and on-device AI will spur DRAM growth. As for next year’s outlook for the System LSI and Foundry Businesses, Samsung will continue to drive favorable earnings growth by increasing the supply of 10-nano products and image sensors, and will also focus on strengthening the competitiveness in the sub 7-nano process through investment in the EUV-related infrastructure.
In the display segment, Samsung will continue seeking growth by addressing market demand for flexible OLED display panels with differentiated technology, as OLED is set to become a mainstream feature in smartphones. Although global competition in the LCD panel business is expected to intensify in 2018, Samsung will strive to ensure its profitability by solidifying partnerships with key customers and enhancing the lineup of ultra-large size, high resolution, quantum dot and frameless panels.
As for the Mobile Business, Samsung will strengthen its leadership in the high-end market with flagship smartphones and improve profitability through optimizing product lineups. Moreover, the company will strive to secure business growth opportunities through new technologies such as 5G and by strengthening the services and software competencies.
For the consumer electronics business, Samsung will continue to focus on expanding premium product sales and enhancing its B2B businesses.
Semiconductors Deliver Strong Performance
The Semiconductor businesses posted KRW 9.96 trillion in operating profits on consolidated revenue of KRW 19.91 trillion for the quarter.
The Memory Business achieved strong earnings for the quarter due to strong demand from all applications amid solid supply and demand conditions. For NAND, while overall demand remained solid due to the launch of flagship smartphones and the expansion of cloud infrastructure, Samsung actively responded to demand from value-added and high density markets such as datacenter NVMe SSD. For DRAM, the expansion of cloud services and the trend for higher density drove strong demand. The company focused on maximizing profit by satisfying demand for differentiated products such as server DRAM over 64GB and low-power mobile DRAM.
Looking at the fourth quarter prospects for NAND, tight supply conditions are expected to remain for mobile and SSD applications, due to continued strong demand for high-density mobile products and expansion of datacenters, respectively. In response, the company will pursue a more profit-focused product mix. Looking further ahead to 2018, the trend toward high-performance, high-density mobile NAND is forecast to continue while server SSD adoption is expected to accelerate as big data needs rise. In response, Samsung will focus on expanding V-NAND supply while developing and ramping-up 5th generation V-NAND.
As for the fourth quarter DRAM outlook, high seasonal demand for mobile and PC is expected while datacenter expansion continues. Against this backdrop, the company will concentrate on cost competitiveness by expanding 1xnm process migration. Looking to 2018, high demand from datacenter infrastructure expansion is forecast to continue while demand for contents growth in mobile products will rise on the wide-spread adoption of dual camera, 3D sensors and on-device AI offerings. In response, the company will focus on ramping-up 10nm-class products and expanding sales of differentiated products such as HBM, high bandwidth LPDDR4X.
Turning to the System LSI Business, solid earnings were achieved through increased sales of mobile processors for mid- to low-end smartphones and image sensors for smartphones, while flagship phone launches lifted sales of OLED DDIs. Looking ahead, weak seasonality for processors and image sensors is expected to dampen growth in the fourth quarter. For 2018, the company will focus on sustaining growth of mobile processor and OLED DDI sales and increasing sales of image sensors amid greater adoption of dual camera features on smartphones. Further, Samsung will aim to expand its offerings to IoT, VR and automotive applications.
As for the Foundry Business, favorable results were achieved thanks to increased sales of 10-nano mobile products benefiting from stabilized yields and strong seasonality. Increased demand for differentiated products such as 32-nano mobile DDIs and 65-nano image sensors also contributed to earnings. Looking to the fourth quarter, although growth is likely to be limited, the company expects to diversify the 10-nano node from mobile to cryptocurrency mining applications, while diversifying the customer base for new 8-nano offerings. For 2018, Samsung will increase supply of 10-nano products and image sensors through mass production in line S3 and transformation of memory line 11 to foundry, respectively, and strengthening sub 7-nano process competitiveness by investing in EUV-related infrastructures.
Display to Improve on Flexible OLEDs
The Display Panel segment posted a KRW 8.28 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 0.97 trillion in operating profit for the third quarter. Revenues increased due to strong sales of flexible panels. However, total earnings declined driven by increased costs for starting-up new OLED production and decreased ASP for LCD panels.
For the OLED business, an increase in shipments of flexible displays for customers’ new flagship launches drove an increase in sales QoQ. However, QoQ earnings declined due to increased competition within rigid OLED products and startup costs of the new OLED production line.
For the LCD business, third quarter earnings declined, due to a decrease in the ASP of LCD panels. Further, capacity expansion in the LCD industry continues to impact prices.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Samsung expects sales in the OLED business to grow based on increased shipments of flexible and rigid products. However, in the LCD business, Samsung continues to expect some supply-demand imbalance due to increased industry capacity as well as decreased seasonal demand. In response, Samsung will seek to ensure profitability through cost reduction and yield improvement, in addition to expanding the portion of high-end, value-add products such as ultra-large size, high resolution and quantum dot panels.
For 2018, Samsung expects OLED products to become mainstream in the smartphone industry, especially as flexible panels increase within high-end devices. The company plans to focus on achieving continuous growth through customers’ demand for flexible displays and through differentiated high-end products. In the LCD business, intensified competition among panel makers as well as capacity expansion within the industry is expected to be balanced with a growing market for premium TV panels, such as UHD and ultra-large sized. In light of these market conditions, Samsung will continue to improve profitability through reinforcing strategic partnerships with major customers, as well as expanding the value-added product lineup.
Mobile Maintains Solid Smartphone Performance
The IT & Mobile Communications Division posted KRW 27.69 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 3.29 trillion in operating profit for the quarter.
Samsung’s smartphone shipment increased on the back of the global roll-out of the newly launched flagship Galaxy Note 8 and solid performance of the new Galaxy J 2017. However, overall revenue and earnings decreased QoQ due to the higher sales portion of mid-to-low tier models.
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, both smartphone and tablet demands are forecast to increase during the year-end peak season.
Although competition is expected to intensify in the premium segment, the company plans to focus on maintaining solid sales and profit QoQ through increased shipment of flagship models thereby enhancing the product mix.
As for the outlook for 2018, smartphone market growth is expected to recover; however, the difficult business environment is likely to continue due to intensifying competition and higher materials costs.
The company will strive to enhance leadership in the premium segment and to improve profitability through optimizing product lineups. Moreover, the company will aim to secure business growth opportunities through new technologies such as 5G and by strengthening services and software competencies.
Meanwhile, the Networks Business saw decreased sales and profit in Q3 QoQ due to a decline in LTE-related investment from global clients. Looking into the fourth quarter and beyond, the company expects to expand the supply of next generation 5G network solutions in the major advanced markets.
Consumer Electronics to Focus on Premium Products
The Consumer Electronics Division, including the Visual Display and Digital Appliances businesses, posted KRW 11.13 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 0.44 trillion in operating profit for the third quarter.
Despite lower demands from advanced markets, significant improvements in QoQ earnings for Samsung’s Visual Display Business were led by increased sales of premium QLED TVs. However, due to higher cost of LCD TV panels and weakening demand of the TV market, YoY earnings were modestly lower.
In the fourth quarter, Samsung will focus on profitability, by increasing the dominance in the premium QLED and ultra-large TV lineups, as well as reinforcing B2B growth including digital signage and Cinema LED businesses.
Looking ahead to 2018, major sports events, including the World Cup and Winter Olympics, are expected to drive demand for UHD and ultra-large screen TVs. Samsung will reinforce its market leadership in the premium market and further improve profitability by increasing the QLED and ultra-large TV lineups.
In Digital Appliances, investment costs in B2B business resulted in a decrease of YoY earnings, despite a modest increase in overall market demand and strong sales of air conditioners and washing machines in Korea.
New products like washing machines with QuickDriveTM technology and POWERstick vacuum cleaners are expected to drive revenue growth in the fourth quarter.
In 2018, Digital Appliances business looks to improve earnings by increasing shipments of premium products as well as expanding the B2B businesses and increasing online channel sales.
※ Consolidated Sales and Operating Profit by Segment based on K-IFRS (2016~2017 3Q)
Note 1: Sales for each business include intersegment sales