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Earnings

Samsung works on industry’s first 200-layer NAND as its Q2 profit jumps

The tech giant is also bullish with its second-half outlook, although it remains cautious about the pandemic

By Jul 29, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Samsung's latest memory chipset based on its V-NAND
Samsung's latest memory chipset based on its V-NAND

Samsung Electronics Co. has made significant progress in developing a 200-layer vertical or V-NAND flash memory –the industry’s first – amid talk that its rivals are catching up fast with the South Korean chipmaker in technology advancement.

Samsung executives made the comments on Thursday after the company posted a 54% on-year jump in second-quarter operating profit and a 20% rise in sales, boosted by its mainstay chip business.

Samsung, the world’s top maker of memory chips and smartphones, also forecast better performance in coming quarters, although it warned of growing supply chain risks due to a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a conference call with analysts on its second-quarter earnings, Han Jin-man, senior vice president at Samsung's memory business unit, said the company has already secured driver chips for 200-layer and higher stacked eighth-generation V-NAND chips and is preparing for a production line ramp-up.

“The 176-layer chip will be the main NAND product until 2022. And we’re working on the next-generation V-NAND chip under our 10-year technology roadmap,” he said.

Samsung has been sharpening its technology in V-NAND flash memory chips to consolidate its flash leadership as its US rival Micron Technology Inc. said last November it developed the industry’s first 176-layer NAND chip.

Samsung plans to unveil solid-state drives based on its 176-layer seventh-generation V-NAND, which it claims has the industry’s smallest cells, in the second half of this year.

Samsung's smartphones
Samsung's smartphones

STELLAR Q2 RESULTS

The Korean tech giant reported on Thursday that its operating profit in the three months to June was 12.57 trillion won ($10.95 billion), its best result since the third quarter of 2018.

Second-quarter profit margin rose to 19.7%, up 4.4 percentage points from a year ago.

Sales came in at 63.67 trillion won, its highest figure for any second quarter.

Semiconductors remained Samsung’s biggest financial driver, with its chip business profit of 6.93 trillion won accounting for 55% of the company’s total operating profit in the second quarter.

Chip business revenue stood at 17.88 trillion won, or 35% of Samsung’s entire sales.

Samsung attributed the decent chip performance to higher-than-expected prices of DRAM and NAND chips and the normalization of its plant in Austin, Texas, which remained idle for a month in the first quarter due to a storm-caused power outage.

Samsung’s IT & Mobile Communications (IM) division saw its sales and operating profit rose 9.3% and 66%, respectively, from a year ago, but fell 22.4% and 26.2% each from the first quarter of this year.

Samsung said it sold 60 million units of handsets in the second quarter, down from 81 million units in the previous quarter, with smartphones accounting for over 90%.

Samsung's Galaxy Z flip smartphone
Samsung's Galaxy Z flip smartphone

BULLISH SECOND-HALF OUTLOOK

The company said it expects better performance in the second half with the launch of new foldable smartphones on Aug. 11 and the expansion of mass-market 5G devices.

In the second half, Samsung also expects other divisions, including the memory, display and home device businesses, to post improved earnings on pent-up demand.

To beef up its leadership in the memory sector, Samsung said it is set to begin mass production of 14-nanometer DRAM using the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology in the second half.

Samsung's home appliancences
Samsung's home appliancences

Sales from its foundry business will likely grow 20% this year with the expansion of its facilities at its Pyeongtaek plant, it said.

Meanwhile, Samsung said its board members approved the reorganization of its governance committee into the sustainability committee to strengthen its environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards and further increase shareholder value.

Members of the sustainability committee will be composed of only outside directors to keep its operation independent.

Write to Su-Bin Lee, Min-Jun Suh and Hyung-Suk Song at lsb@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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