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South Korea's SK Hynix posts record Q3 profit as chip outlook dims

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South Korea's SK Hynix Inc posted record third-quarter operating profit on Thursday despite softer chip prices, beating expectations thanks to a seasonal sales boost for mobile devices and strong server demand.

[SEOUL] South Korea's SK Hynix Inc posted record third-quarter operating profit on Thursday despite softer chip prices, beating expectations thanks to a seasonal sales boost for mobile devices and strong server demand.

The world's No.2 memory chipmaker said July-September operating profit rose 73 per cent year-on-year to 6.5 trillion won (S$7.9 billion). That compared with a 6.3 trillion won average forecast from 19 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

Sales rose 41 per cent to a record high of 11.4 trillion won compared to the same period a year ago.

Looking ahead, the company said Chinese consumers' growing demand for high-density chips for low-end smartphones would help offset the negative impacts of slower DRAM chip price growth and falling NAND flash chip prices.

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Macroeconomic factors including global trade conflicts would however fuel uncertainty around the pace of the slowdown in the DRAM market, it added.

Price falls in memory chips are set to end a two-year super cycle of tight supply and soaring profits for chipmakers around the world, analysts say.

Prices of DRAM memory chips - which help servers, gaming PCs and cryptocurrency mining devices process large amounts of streaming data - would fall about 5 per cent in the fourth quarter after jumping about 25 per cent since 2016, Taurus Investment and Securities analyst Lee Wang Jin said.

Average prices of NAND flash memory chips, used in smartphones and memory cards, would fall about 9 per cent in the fourth quarter, he added.

"Tough times are ahead until roughly the first half of next year, but we will have a clearer picture early next year when chipmakers lay out their investment plans," Mr Lee said.

SK Hynix's operating profit would begin to fall year-on-year from the second quarter of 2019, Refinitiv data shows.

REUTERS