Samsung profit slips on coronavirus, more falls forecast

Samsung expects weaker results in the next three months, adding that “uncertainties driven by COVID-19 will persist” into the second half. (AP)
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Updated 29 April 2020

Samsung profit slips on coronavirus, more falls forecast

  • Net profits in the January-to-March period were $4 billion, down 3.1 percent from a year earlier

SEOUL: The world’s biggest smartphone maker, Samsung Electronics, said Wednesday that net profits in the first quarter were only slightly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but warned of further falls to come as demand is “significantly” hit by the disease.
It reported on Wednesday that net profits fell slightly in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic dampened consumer demand, but warned of further falls to come.
Net profits in the January-to-March period were $4 billion, down 3.1 percent from a year earlier, the company said in a statement.
The January-March performance was “partially due to effects of COVID-19,” Samsung said in a statement.
And it said it expects weaker results in the next three months, adding that “uncertainties driven by COVID-19 will persist” into the second half.
The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates known as “chaebols” that dominate business in the world’s 12th-largest economy.
The figures come as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc across the world economy — earlier this month Samsung had operations suspended at 11 overseas assembly lines — with expectations rife of a looming global recession.
In the second quarter, it warned: “Overall earnings are likely to decline from the previous quarter because COVID-19 will significantly impact demand for several of its core products.”
Memory demand “is expected to remain robust for servers and PCs as more people work from home,” it said.
But “sales and profits of set products business, including smartphones and TVs, are expected to decline significantly as COVID-19 affects demand and leads to store and plant closures globally.”
Woody Oh, a researcher at Strategy Analytics, said the first-quarter results showed only “a slight impact” from the virus outbreak, which emerged in China and spread to the US, Europe and India — Samsung’s key markets.
“But the real impact will show in the second quarter,” he said, adding almost all companies will report their worst results in April-June as the effects of the pandemic become clear.
Samsung had pinned its hopes for 2020 on a rollout of its new 5G and premium smartphones including its latest folding Galaxy Z flip phone.
“While a contraction of the global smartphone market is expected as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, demand for 5G smartphones is forecast to grow,” DJ Koh, president of Samsung’s mobile division told the firm’s shareholder meeting last month.
Global smartphone sales dropped 14 percent year-on-year in February, according to the latest data from market researcher Counterpoint Research, although Samsung’s sales remained stable as it has limited exposure to the heavily hit Chinese market.
A report by market researcher TrendForce this month showed Samsung’s chip business may take a hit in the second half from shipment disruptions caused by virus lockdowns.
“Some of Samsung’s back-end server DRAM packaging operations are based in Luzon, the Philippines. Therefore, the continued quarantine of Luzon may affect the shipment schedule of Samsung’s server DRAM modules,” it said.
Overall, the Taiwan-based market researcher said it expects the rebound of memory chip prices to be “flattened” as the coronavirus pandemic dampens demand from the latter half of the year.
Adding to Samsung Electronics’ challenges, its vice chairman and de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is currently being re-tried over a sprawling corruption scandal that could see him return to prison.
He is not being held in custody during the proceedings, but a guilty verdict could deprive the firm of its top decision-maker.


Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

Updated 10 August 2020

Oil giants’ production cuts come to 1m bpd as they post massive write-downs

  • Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April

LONDON: The world’s five largest oil companies collectively cut the value of their assets by nearly $50 billion in the second quarter, and slashed production rates as the coronavirus pandemic caused a drastic fall in fuel prices and demand.

The dramatic reductions in asset valuations and decline in output show the depth of the pain in the second quarter. Fuel demand at one point was down by more than 30 percent worldwide.

Several executives said they took massive write-downs because they expect demand to remain impaired for several more quarters as people travel less and use less fuel due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Of those five companies, only Exxon Mobil did not book sizeable impairments. But an ongoing reevaluation of its plans could lead to a “significant portion” of its assets being impaired, it reported, and signal the elimination of 20 percent or 4.4 billion barrels of its oil and gas reserves.

By contrast, BP took a $17 billion hit. It said it plans to recenter its spending in coming years around renewables and less on oil and natural gas.

Weak demand means oil producers must revisit business plans, said Lee Maginniss, managing director at consultants Alarez & Marsal. He said the goal should be to pump only what generates cash in excess of overhead costs.

“It’s low-cost production mode through the end of 2021 for sure, and to 2022 to the extent there are new development plans being contemplated,” Maginniss said.

London-based BP has previously said it plans to cut its overall output by roughly 1 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOEPD) by the end of 2030 from its current 3.6 million BOEPD.

Of the five, Exxon is the largest producer, with daily output of 3.64 million BOEPD, but its production dropped 408,000 BOEPD between the first and second quarters. The five majors, which include Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA, also cut capital expenditures by a combined $25 billion between the quarters.

Crude output worldwide dropped sharply after the market crashed in April. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut output by nearly 10 million barrels a day to balance out supply and demand in the market.