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Earnings

Samsung SDI Q1 sales at all-time high, says VW’s battery move long shot

Apr 27, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Samsung SDI Q1 sales at all-time high, says VW’s battery move long shot

Samsung SDI Co., one of South Korea's top three electric vehicle battery makers, saw its first-quarter revenue profit jump on solid demand with its revenue hitting an all-time high for the January-March period.

Operating profit in the first three months of the year more than doubled to 133.2 billion won ($120 million) from the year-earlier period, while net profit rose over 200 times to 150 billion won from a mere 729 million won, the company said in a regulatory filing on Apr. 27.

Revenue on a consolidated basis increased 23.6% on year to 2.96 trillion won, marking its best-ever sales for the first quarter.

The company said strong demand for batteries and energy storage systems (ESS) drove up its overall revenue, despite a weak performance in sales of electronic materials.

A lower base of comparison in the year-earlier period when the entire industry was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to its spectacular earnings growth, it said.

Revenue from its energy business, including batteries, rose 32.9% on year to 2.39 trillion won, accounting for the lion’s share of its overall sales. From the previous quarter, however, its energy business sales declined 9.2% due to seasonally low sales of batteries for electric cars.

BATTERY SALES TO IMPROVE IN Q2

Samsung SDI said it expects its battery sales and earnings to further improve in the second quarter on strong sales of EV batteries in Europe and robust ESS demand in the US market.

The company said the second quarter will see increased demand for both the cylindrical type for EVs and the pouch type for smartphones and other gadgets.

“Most global automakers are putting the production of electric cars ahead of combustion-engine cars to meet the tougher regulations on carbon gas emissions,” Kim Yoon-tae, head of Samsung SDI’s finance and management support team, said during a conference call with analysts.

He said the global chip supply shortage has not yet affected its battery production as automakers are prioritizing their EV production.

VW’S IN-HOUSE BATTERY PRODUCTION STILL A LONG SHOT

Samsung said it won’t be easy for Tesla Inc. and Volkswagen AG, as announced earlier, to make batteries in-house any time soon.

Cylindrical batteries
Cylindrical batteries
“Making EV batteries requires years and years of know-how and technology. A 100% in-house production is kind of easier said than done,” said Michael Son, senior vice president of Samsung SDI’s battery marketing division.

Last month, South Korean EV battery makers were caught off guard when Volkswagen AG announced it would gradually switch the type of batteries used in its EVs away from those made by Korean suppliers and make its batteries in-house. The German carmaker added it would roll out a new unified prismatic battery cell design from 2023 to reduce production costs and improve efficiency.

Korea’s top battery player LG Energy Solution Ltd. and cross-town rival SK Innovation Co. have been manufacturing pouch-type batteries for Volkswagen. Samsung SDI is its only Korean supplier for the prismatic type.

In September 2020, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk announced that the company will develop new cells in-house to reduce its reliance on outside suppliers.

The US EV giant said its next-generation 4680 battery cells, currently under development, are a cylindrical type.

Write to Hyung-Kyu Kim at khk@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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