SK Hynix Profit Exceeds Estimates on Chip Price Rebound

SK Hynix Inc. (000660), the world’s second- largest maker of computer memory chips, posted first-quarter profit that beat analyst estimates amid a rebound in prices for semiconductors used in personal computers.

The company turned to net income of 178.7 billion won ($159 million) in the three months ended March from a loss of 271 billion won a year earlier, Icheon, South Korea-based Hynix said in a regulatory filing today. That compares with the 172 billion won average of 25 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

SK Hynix, a supplier to Apple Inc. (AAPL), is shifting its focus to more profitable mobile dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips amid rising demand for smartphones and production cuts by smaller rivals. Demand from handset makers including Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) will drive sales and improve earnings in the second quarter, said Oh Sang Woo, an analyst at Leading Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul.

“A strong earnings improvement is expected in the second quarter,” Kim Young Chan, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. in Seoul, said before the announcement. “PC DRAM prices will continue to rise, while the global mobile DRAM chip supply will be in shortage.”

Hynix fell 0.5 percent to 28,850 won in Seoul trading yesterday. The stock has gained 12 percent this year.

Operating profit, or sales excluding the cost of goods sold and administrative costs, was 317 billion won on sales of 2.8 trillion won.

The price of the benchmark DDR3 2-gigabit DRAM rose to $1.74 on Mar. 29 from $1 a year earlier, according to TrendForce Corp.’s DRAMeXchange, Asia’s largest market for the components.

The pace of price drops in mobile DRAM will slow to about 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter from about 9.2 percent in the first quarter, said KB Investment & Securities analyst Byun Han Joon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jungah Lee in Seoul at jlee1361@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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