Seoul (AFP)

South Korean giant Samsung Electronics is forecasting a 27.9% year-on-year jump in operating profit in the third quarter of 2021 despite the pandemic and supply difficulties, according to documents released to authorities on Friday.

According to the documents, the world's largest smartphone maker expects to make operating profit of around 15.8 trillion won (11.47 billion euros).

For the July-September quarter, the final results of which will be announced later, Samsung Electronics estimates that it achieved record sales of 73 trillion won (52 billion euros), up 9% year-on-year, said a spokesperson for the group told AFP.

Samsung Electronics is the main entity of the gigantic Samsung Group family empire, which weighs a fifth of South Korea's gross domestic product.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 4.8 million lives worldwide and led to travel restrictions and lockdowns, paradoxically had favorable effects for the electronics industry thanks to the boom in demand for computer equipment for telecommuting, televisions and household appliances.

The global economy is currently facing supply chain dysfunctions, which translate into insufficient supply of maritime transport and shortages of raw materials and semiconductors.

However, analysts note, these problems are mitigated for Samsung thanks to the weakness of the won against the dollar, which allows the South Korean group to continue to achieve comfortable margins, especially in the smartphone sector.

Analysts, however, expect semiconductor prices to start falling soon, which would have negative effects for Samsung.

"With the decline in demand for computers in the post-Covid period, chip prices are expected to fall from the fourth quarter," predicted Park Sung-soon, analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.

These estimates are revealed shortly after the release from prison in August of vice president and de facto leader of Samsung Lee Jae-yong.

Mr. Lee was released on parole after serving half of a two-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption and embezzlement in a case that led to the downfall of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

This release is the latest example of South Korea's use of the economic motive to free businessmen detained for corruption or tax evasion.

The company director has not finished with justice, however: he will have to answer the charges of manipulation of a takeover to facilitate his succession at the head of the Samsung group.

© 2021 AFP