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* Q1 operating profit 317 bln won vs 205 bln won f'cast
* Profit boosted by mobile chip sales
* Forecasts stronger chip market on new product releases, China demand
SEOUL, April 24 (Reuters) - South Korea's SK Hynix Inc posted quarterly operating profit that handily beat expectations and forecast a stronger second quarter, as computer memory chip prices rallied and demand for chips used in mobile devices increased.
Commodity dynamic random access memory (DRAM) prices have jumped 61 percent so far this year as suppliers curtailed output due to declining PC sales and converted some of their capacity to make chips used in smartphones and tablets produced by consumer electronics giants such as Apple Inc.
Samsung Electronics Co, the world's top smartphone maker, said this month that it is considering purchasing mobile memory chips from Hynix for future products including its flagship Galaxy S smartphones. That will benefit the South Korean chipmaker looking to diversify its client base to counter slowing PC chip sales.
"We expect to see strong demand for mobile DRAM chips in the second quarter as major mobile customers are gearing up for new product releases and growth for China's smartphone market is also accelerating," Hynix said in its earnings statement.
Hynix, which competes with Japan's Toshiba Corp, U.S.-based Micron Technology and also Samsung, reported 317 billion won ($282.8 million) in January-March operating profit, versus a loss of 264 billion won a year ago.
The result marks a sharp improvement from the previous quarter's 55 billion won profit, and beat analysts' average forecast of 205 billion won profit.
Shares in Hynix have risen 13 percent over the past three months, beating a 4 percent decline in the broader market .