Trial of Samsung heir focuses on father-to-son succession

The hefty profits highlight Samsung's resilience after the embarrassing recall of its fire-prone Note 7 smartphone previous year.

Even as the Samsung de facto leader and four other executives face corruption charges, the latest earnings preview showed the company's business is thriving.

Samsung, in a regulatory filing, said its January-March profit was likely 9.9 trillion won ($8.76 billion), compared with an average forecast of 9.4 trillion won from a Thomson Reuters survey of 18 analysts.

Rising demand for memory chips and organic light-emitting diode screens helped to fuel a rise in sales to 50 trillion won in the quarter, compared with the 49.5 trillion won analysts expected.

The result was higher than the market consensus of 9.3 trillion won, according to financial data provider FactSet.

Samsung Electronics says its first-quarter profit jumped 48 percent likely due to smartphone component sales.

Its display business is estimated to have contributed 1 trillion won on strong demand for LCD panels in China.

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Prosecutors believe the 48-year-old billionaire and his aides used Samsung corporate funds to bribe former President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante in exchange for supporting a smooth leadership transition at Samsung.

Lee's lawyers have previously denied all charges brought against Lee.

Lee, who was arrested in February, has been charged with offering almost $40 million to the now-impeached president and her close friend Choi Soon-Sil, allegedly as bribes to secure policy favours.

All this is happening amid management upheaval at South Korea's biggest family-run conglomerate, with third-generation leader Lee embroiled in a scandal that has already led to Park's removal from office for allegedly receiving bribes.

Samsung did not elaborate on its quarterly results.

Not wanting to be far behind, Samsung earlier in the day announced that it estimates the first quarter will produce its best quarterly profit in more than three years, reflecting record earnings off a memory chip super-cycle. But the outlook for the Suwon, South Korea-based firm's mobile division got a boost last week after unveiling its newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S8. The S8 was its first major smartphone launch since the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

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