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Samsung Posts Record Q4 Earnings

Booming smartphone sales and a profitable chip business powered Samsung Electronics to record earnings in the last quarter.

Asia’s largest technology firm posted $4.7 billion in operating profit, its highest-ever quarterly earnings, and up 76% from the same period a year ago.

Samsung’s mobile segment was the top earner, with its Galaxy line of smartphones accounting for half of its operating profit.

Samsung expects this segment to grow 30% in 2012, with higher margins of around 15%.

The firm didn’t provide actual sales figures of its smartphones for the quarter, but analysts say rival, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), may have reclaimed the top spot in smartphone sales in the same period.

Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the October to December quarter, while analysts estimate Samsung sold around 36 million smartphones. Apple’s iPhone margins are also higher at 37%.

But Apple contributed to Samsung’s stellar results in the chip segment, which accounted for the other half of overall profit.

Samsung says strong demand for mobile chips from clients like Apple, as well as server chip sales, offset weakness in the PC market.

The firm’s flat-panel display business posted a loss of $196 million, while its TV and home appliance business made profits of around $507 million.

Samsung says it will hike investments this year by 9% to $22 billion (24.6 trillion won), with 60% going to its chip business and a quarter to its flat-screen operations.