UPDATE 3-Samsung Q4 tops forecast; chip outlook tough for now
(Adds more company comments, updates shares)
By Rhee So-eui and Marie-France Han
SEOUL Jan 15 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Cotización), the biggest maker of memory chips used in computers, cameras and music players, posted a smaller-than-expected 7 percent dip in quarterly profit, as strong sales of its TV screens eclipsed falling chip prices.
The South Korean technology powerhouse said it expected a global oversupply of computer chips and lower price to last through the first half, but market conditions should change "dramatically" in the second half when demand picks up.
"Once the memory business recovers -- I don't know whether it will be late in the second quarter or in the third quarter -- the results will show a strong rebound," Chu Woo-sik, executive vice president of investor relations, told reporters.
Samsung is expected to increase 2008 net profit by around 12 percent to 8.3 trillion won, according to Reuters Estimates.
The company's shares, valued at $84 billion, closed 1.3 percent higher at 532,000 won in a wider market .KS11 that fell more than 1 percent. The stock earlier gained 3 percent to its highest since Jan. 4.
"It looks like Samsung has moved to improve its product mix and cut costs faster than the market had expected," said Kim Young-il, fund manager at Hanwha Investment Trust Management.
"While a slowing U.S. economy would weigh on chip demand, that would also encourage manufacturers to rein in capital expenditure." Continuación...