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Samsung is betting on AI and the Galaxy S24 to turn around declining profits

The company is banking on the Galaxy S24 devices to help it recover this year.

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Samsung has failed to recover from the sharp decline in profit it experienced in 2022. In its latest earnings report, the Korean company has reported KRW 258.94 trillion ($194 billion) in annual revenue and KRW 6.57 trillion ($4.9 billion) in operating profit for the fiscal year of 2023. Those are markedly smaller numbers than the previous fiscal year's, especially the latter's — Samsung posted an operating profit of KRW 43.38 trillion ($35 billion) for 2022, which was already $6.9 billion smaller than the year before due to the weak demand for its chips and smartphones. According to The Wall Street Journal, these numbers represent Samsung's weakest earnings in over a decade.

The company says its memory business showed signs of recovery, but not enough to stop it from incurring KRW 2.18 trillion ($1.63 billion) in operating losses for the fourth quarter of 2023. According to Nikkei, this is the semiconductor division's first annual loss in 15 years since the 2008 global financial crisis, and it's the biggest one yet. Samsung's visual display and digital appliances division also posted KRW 0.05 trillion ($37.5 million) in operating losses despite TV sales doing well in the fourth quarter due to the holiday season. Samsung's mobile business showed a a decline in sales and profit quarter-on-quarter, as well, due to lower smartphone sales and "the fading of new-product effects" from previous flagship models.

For the first quarter of 2024, Samsung's game plan is to improve its profits "by increasing sales of high value-added products," such as components meant for generative AI products. It expects stronger demand for its chips in the PC and mobile sectors this year, but it admits that its earnings may not significantly recover soon because its customers are still downsizing their inventories. Samsung has high hopes for the Galaxy S24 series, though, and believes the devices' AI capabilities can help its mobile business achieve a a double-digit growth in 2024. The Galaxy S24 phones have already started shipping with prices starting at $800 for the most basic version and at $1,300 for the S24 Ultra.

Update, January 31, 2024, 6:44AM ET: Added information about the semiconductor division's historic losses.