Samsung Electronics says outlook tough; aims at record profit

SEOUL Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:16pm EDT

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SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS), the world's top memory chip maker, forecast on Friday a challenging business outlook due to growing competition, but said it was aiming to achieve record profit this year.

The South Korean company, also the world's No.1 maker of TVs and LCD flat screens and No.2 manufacturer of handsets, is facing growing business uncertainty as prices of key products remain depressed and concerns mount that component supplies may be disrupted due to last week's devastating quake, tsunami and nuclear fallout in Japan.

"2011 will be a challenging year for electronics companies as intensifying competition continues to put pressure on profit margins," Samsung chief executive Choi Gee-sung told shareholders at its annual general meeting on Friday.

"Samsung will strive to maintain its sales growth momentum from last year and achieve new records in operating profits," Choi said.

In 2010, the company reported 155 trillion won ($136.7 billion) sales and 17.3 trillion won in operating profit.

Analysts expect Samsung's 2011 operating profit to remain little changed at 17.4 trillion won this year, while sales were seen up around 9 percent to 169 trillion won, according to a consensus poll by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Samsung also said it would continue to aggressively enter new business areas such as health and medical equipment.

Shares in Samsung, Asia's most valuable technology firm with a market value of around $127 billion, rose 0.5 percent by 0005 GMT, in line with the wider market .KS11.

The company competes with Japan's Sony Corp (6758.T) in TVs, LG Display (034220.KS) in flat screens, and Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc (000660.KS) in semiconductors.

(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)

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