SEOUL - South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics flagged a 44.19 percent rise in first quarter operating profit Wednesday, largely driven by robust sales of smartphones and the launch of its flagship Galaxy S21 series.
The company said in an earnings estimate that it expected operating profit of 9.3 trillion won ($8.3 billion) for January to March, up from 6.45 trillion won a year earlier.
Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung group, by far the largest of the family-controlled empires known as chaebols that dominate business in South Korea, the world's 12th largest economy.
It is crucial to the country's economic health -- the conglomerate's overall turnover is equivalent to a fifth of the national gross domestic product.
The coronavirus has wreaked havoc with the world economy, with lockdowns and travel bans imposed around the globe for many months.
But the pandemic -- which has killed more than 2.8 million people worldwide -- has also seen many tech companies boom.
Analysts say the the company has had a particular boost from rolling out its Galaxy S21 series in January, more than a month ahead of the flagship product's usual annual launch schedule.
"Key to the success of this latest flagship has been its lower $799 starting price," tracker Counterpoint Research said in a report.
"Lower cost coupled with trade-in offers that essentially make the S21 device free, is helping increase demand for these 'entry-level' flagships."