BY Richard Summerfield
The smartphone industry is a fast moving and fickle market. As Samsung Electronics well knows, a company’s fortunes can rise and fall on the strength of a single device. When the company released its Galaxy S7 line of phones earlier this year, Samsung recorded its strongest profits in over two years.
In July, revenue of $45.2bn was up 5 percent on the previous year, while the firm’s operating profit was up 18 percent to $7.22bn.
However, as quickly as things can improve, they can fall apart. The debacle surrounding the release, replacement and subsequent recall of its Galaxy Note 7 device has plunged the company’s brand and reputation into chaos. Indeed, the furore surrounding Samsung’s exploding ‘phablet’ could not have come at a worse time for the South Korean firm, with major rivals Google and Apple launching competing devices in the last few weeks. It appears that Samsung’s brand and balance sheet may be adversely affected, contrary to what the company originally claimed.
Just last week, Samsung issued earnings guidance which claimed that the company’s recall of the device would not adversely impact its balance sheet. However, on Wednesday it said it expects third quarter profits of $4.7bn or 5.2 trillion won, around a third lower than its original estimate of 7.8 trillion won. The company has also dramatically reduced revenue expectations, cutting them by 2 trillion won to 47 trillion ($41.8bn).
Samsung also noted that in light of the difficulties it has had with the Note 7 device, it was stopping all sales and production of the phablet, citing consumer safety concerns. “For the benefit of consumers' safety, we have stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 and have consequently decided to stop production," Samsung said in a statement.
The day before the company made the announcement, Samsung saw $18bn wiped off its market capitalisation. The following day the company’s shares continued to fall. How Samsung recovers from here will be telling. Undoubtedly, the momentum the firm built up through the release of the Galaxy S7 device has slowed considerably.