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  • Bloomberg

    Samsung Net Profit Misses Estimates After 5G iPhone’s Debut

    (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. missed analyst estimates for the fourth quarter and warned profitability will likely decline this quarter, citing weakness in its memory chip business and challenges with currency fluctuations.South Korea’s biggest company reported net income in the three months ended December of 6.45 trillion won ($5.84 billion), missing the 7.3 trillion won average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Shares fell 2.2% in Seoul on Thursday.Samsung, the world’s largest maker of memory chips and displays, struck a cautious tone that stood in contrast to that of many technology companies benefiting during the coronavirus lockdowns. Just hours earlier, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. reported financial results that handily exceed estimates.“In the first quarter, we expect overall profitability to decline due to relative weakness in the memory and display businesses,” said Ben Suh, executive vice president of investor relations, during a call with investors. In the memory business, Samsung’s most important profit engine, “results are likely to weaken due to currency effects and continued costs associated with new fab ramp up.”Operating profit for the semiconductor unit was 3.85 trillion won in the fourth quarter, short of the 4.62 trillion estimate from analysts. The company said it expects a recovery in the business in the first half.Samsung said it’s tracking whether chip shortages that have hit the global auto industry could spill over to other sectors, including tech products.“This is a global issue,” said Han Jinman, executive vice president of the memory business. “There is a possibility that the shortage of other semiconductor parts may impact mobile demand and so, we are carefully watching how that plays out.”In the smartphone business, Samsung struggled in the holiday period as Apple introduced its first 5G-capable iPhones and Chinese rivals put up fierce competition. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company took over the No. 1 position in the fourth quarter, ahead of Samsung and China’s Xiaomi Corp., market research firms said on Thursday.With a lot of good devices on the market, “there is only so much that Samsung can grab out of it,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, research manager at IDC.Investors had anticipated Samsung could increase its dividend payout substantially, in part because the founding Lee family faces an enormous inheritance tax bill. Instead, the company said it would continue to return 50% of free cash flow to shareholders between 2021 and 2023, although its annual dividend payout will increase slightly to 9.8 trillion won.The results come just days after Samsung’s de-facto leader, billionaire heir Jay Y. Lee, was sent back to prison on bribery charges. Although professional managers lead the company’s operating units, Lee has played a central role in major strategic decisions.The company signaled it will continue to press ahead with critical deals and investments. Samsung will use its capital to expand the capacity of its foundry business, which fabricates chips for clients like Nvidia Corp., to meet demand and overcome current supply shortages. It will also invest in facility expansions and “meaningful” acquisitions, the company said.“For the last few years, we have been evaluating possible M&A opportunities very carefully and have made significant progress in terms of preparation,” Choi Yoon-ho, chief financial officer of Samsung, said during the earnings call. “Although it is difficult to pinpoint a specific timing due to uncertainties in the internal and external business environment ... we are optimistic of carrying out meaningful M&A activities during this term.”Read more: Samsung Surges to New High on Strong Memory Market OutlookAnalysts including Yungsan Choi of Ebest Investment & Securities have been anticipating a long-awaited rebound in memory chip prices due to demand for servers and more powerful 5G smartphones. Component supplier Murata Manufacturing Co. and chipmaker MediaTek Inc. both anticipate more than half a billion 5G handsets to be shipped this year.Chipmakers Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc. gave a bullish forecast for the first quarter of this year on continued demand for computers and phones that enable working and studying from home. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is planning another record-breaking year of investment with as much as $28 billion set aside to expand and improve its production capacity at a time of silicon supply shortages affecting everyone from global automakers to mobile tech giants like Apple and Qualcomm Inc.Samsung’s contract chip manufacturing is expected to expand with the addition of Intel as a customer. The two companies have discussed development and production of Intel’s mainboard chipsets over the last two years and Samsung will produce the chipset at its Austin, Texas plant starting from this quarter, Meritz Securities said in a note.Samsung Is Said to Mull $10 Billion Texas Chipmaking PlantThe existing Austin fab is capable of operating on a 14-nanometer process. With rising expectations of growth in the foundry market, Samsung is considering building a cutting-edge logic chipmaking plant in the region that would be capable of fabricating chips as advanced as 3nm in the future, Bloomberg News reported earlier.“Regarding investments including building a fab in the U.S., we haven’t made a decision yet,” said Shawn Han, senior vice president. “Due to the nature of foundry business that requires timely and efficient responses to customers’ demand, we routinely review capacity expansions. We continue to study ways to optimize operations at fabs in all regions from Giheung, Hwaseong to Austin.”(Updates with executive comment on shortages in seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Intel’s Incoming CEO Gelsinger Lures Back Engineering Talent

    (Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp.’s incoming Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger is luring back talent to world’s largest chipmaker before he even officially returns.Sunil Shenoy will rejoin Intel as senior vice president of the Design Engineering group effective Feb. 1, the Santa Clara, California-based company said in a statement Wednesday. When he left in 2014, Shenoy was head of Intel’s platform engineering group, a narrower role to the one he’s assuming now.Glenn Hinton, a former Intel Senior Fellow who led the development of a key chip design, also returned to the company recently in a senior engineering role. Shenoy and Hinton will report to outgoing CEO Bob Swan until the middle of February, and then to Gelsinger who officially rejoins Intel on Feb. 15.Gelsinger, who previously spent 30 years at Intel, said he’s bringing back the style of management he learned from the founders, notably Andy Grove. Before Swan, Intel had always been run by home-grown executives who were adherents to Grove’s data-driven decision making and direct, sometimes confrontational, internal communication aimed at ensuring problems were never buried.In Gelsinger’s absence, Intel lost its lead in manufacturing technology, leaving it facing rivals with better products and customers that are defecting or building their own chips. Under Swan’s predecessor, Brian Krzanich, a number of senior executives and top engineers left and were replaced by outsiders. The influx of executives, such as Murthy Renduchintala from Qualcomm Inc., failed to fix product delays and contributed to a crisis that spurred the board to recruit Gelsinger.Read more: Intel’s New CEO Recommits to Chip ManufacturingShenoy was an executive at SiFive, a startup that’s trying to commercialize chip designs based on a technology called RISC-V, a rival to Intel’s X86 and Arm Ltd.’s dominant instruction sets.Read more: Silicon Valley’s Next Revolution Is Open Source Semiconductors“His experience inside and outside of Intel will enable him to combine the best of Intel culture with an entrepreneurial spirit and fresh perspective as we work to strengthen the company’s technical leadership team and to coach and develop a new generation of technical talent,” Swan said in the statement.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    AMD Gives Upbeat Sales Forecast on Demand for Chips

    (Bloomberg) -- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. gave an upbeat forecast, reflecting strong demand for its chips and gains against rival Intel Corp.First-quarter revenue will be about $3.2 billion, plus or minus $100 million, Santa Clara, California-based AMD said Tuesday. That compares with an average analyst estimate of $2.73 billion. For 2021, the company projected a sales increase of 37%, well ahead of Wall Street expectations.AMD has struggled for decades to make sustainable gains against Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker. However, the smaller company has revamped its products and outsourced production, helping it create processors that match or exceed the performance of Intel’s offerings. That has spurred early market share gains and a surge in AMD shares in recent years.Lisa Su, AMD’s chief executive officer, faced questions on whether she can get enough chips to meet demand and how much more profitable the company could be if it can pull this off.“Overall demand has been high in 2020 and exceeded our plans,” she said in an interview. “All of our businesses are firing on all cylinders.”AMD’s 2021 forecast takes into account tight supply in the first half of the year. Profitability is increasing and margin expansion will depend on which market is growing faster, she said. AMD’s profit margins aren’t being squeezed higher production costs or price cuts, she added.In addition to competing with Intel in processors for personal computers and servers, AMD supplies graphics chips used in Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation. New versions of these video game consoles went on sale during the recent holiday period, raising expectations for this part of AMD’s business, which rivals Nvidia Corp.AMD’s chips are made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which has better production technology than Intel. TSMC also supplies Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Nvidia and many other technology companies, and the Taiwanese company is struggling to keep up with demand.Last week, Intel reported better-than-expected earnings and gave an upbeat forecast for the first quarter. Strong demand for laptops to support working and studying from home has fueled growth and will continue in the first half of 2021, Intel said.AMD reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.78 billion, or $1.45 a share, compared with $170 million, or 15 cents, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 53% to $3.2 billion. Profit, excluding certain items, was 52 cents. Analysts were looking for profit of 47 cents on sales of $3 billion. Net income was boosted by a tax benefit of $1.3 billion in the quarter, AMD said.AMD shares slipped about 1% in extended trading. The stock has soared almost 90% in the past year.(Updates with CEO comments in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.