Hong Kong (CNN Business)Samsung‘s operating profit plunged 56% in the third quarter compared to last year as the company continues to struggle with sluggish demand for memory chips. But the company said chip sales should pick up in 2020, drawing a line under the prolonged industry downturn.
The South Korean technology giant on Thursday reported operating profit of 7.8 trillion Korean won ($6.7 billion) for the quarter ending September.That’s down from 17.57 trillion Korean won ($15.1 billion) for the same period a year ago. Sales fell 5% to 62 trillion won ($53 billion) from the same period last year but improved 10% from the previous quarter. “Third quarter profit fell sharply from a year earlier but improved from the previous quarter, as stronger smartphone sales and improved utilization in mobile OLED screens were weighed down by continued weakness in the memory chip market,” the company said in a statement. Shares in Samsung (SSNLF) were up 2% in morning trade in Seoul. Read MoreSamsung’s profits have taken a beating over the past year, largely because of a slump in its memory chip business. Samsung unveils the Chromebook 4 and 4+The company said smartphone sales “improved significantly” this quarter due to strong sales and “robust shipments” of Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 10, along with its Galaxy A series. Samsung’s smartphone business posted an operating profit of 2.92 trillion won ($2.5 billion), an increase of 32% from the previous year. But the company said it expects weaker smartphone sales for the rest of the year, citing seasonal effects and economic uncertainties.Samsung has benefited from the current troubles facing Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and No. 2 smartphone seller.Washington added Huawei to a trade blacklist in May, barring US companies from selling vital tech and components to the Chinese tech giant.The US ban forced Huawei to launch its latest flagship phone, the Mate 30, without key Google services. Without access to popular apps like Google Maps and YouTube, Huawei phones become a lot less attractive to international users. Research firm Canalys said in August that Samsung rocketed to 40% market share in Europe, its highest in five years. Samsung's Galaxy Fold will go on sale in the United States this week“Samsung has been quick to capitalize on Huawei’s [US] problems, working behind the scenes to position itself as a stable alternative in conversations with important retailers and operators,” Canalys analyst Ben Stanton said at the time. The US ban also put a dent in Huawei’s ambitions to dominate the global 5G smartphone market. As the market gears up for the next generation of ultra-fast wireless technology, Daishin analysts predict Samsung will have the upper hand “as virtually the only 5G smartphone manufacturer in the world outside China.” Samsung said it expects consumer demand for 5G devices to rise in 2020 as 5G networks expand globally. “The company plans to offer more 5G devices and foldable products to enhance its competitiveness and build a foundation for further growth,” it said.