Samsung's Still Killing It

Back in July I noted how well Samsung was doing, despite the difficult economic environment. It's still tearing the cover off the ball. Its third-quarter profit tripled year-over-year. The quarter's net income of $3.1 billion is a new quarterly record for the company. And this all in the midst of one of the worst global recessions in recent memory.

Bloomberg has some detail:

Profit at Samsung's semiconductor division jumped sixfold to 1.15 trillion won, exceeding analysts' estimates, on higher prices after industrywide production cuts helped ease a glut.

That accounts for some of the success, but it's not the whole story. Bloomberg also notes:

Income at the liquid-crystal-display business doubled to 1.01 trillion won after panel prices rose, driven by higher demand for flat-screen TVs.

Given today's earlier bad news that consumer spending is declining, I'm not sure where that higher demand is coming from, because it likely isn't U.S.-based. But I also think that Sony's poor earnings report (also released today) might cast some doubt on this assertion. Sony lost $289 million in the quarter. The Associated Press reports:

Sony, whose global competitors include South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., said it managed to turn a profit in the July-September quarter at its core electronics and device business. But Sony acknowledged its liquid crystal display TVs and game machine computer chip businesses continued to be hurt by intensifying price competition.

So it sounds to me like it isn't quite right to say consumers are just demanding more flat-screen TVs, but that they're specifically demanding more of Samsung's flat-screen TVs.

In the TV space, I'd identify Samsung's success as having an obvious formula. It has a better product at a lower price. Any company who can do that is bound to do well. Of course, as I noted a few weeks back, the Korean won's weakness doesn't hurt either.