What's going on?
Electronics and chipmaking giant Samsung gave an encouraging preview of its quarterly results on Thursday.
What does this mean?
Samsung isn’t due to report its full results until the end of the month, but it likes to wet investors’ whistles ahead of the big day. And their whistles certainly needed wetting, given that dwindling demand and an oversupply have been causing trouble for the chipmaking industry. But they can put their cynicism to bed: there was still plenty of demand for Samsung’s server chips, as Big Tech hoarded them to meet booming demand for cloud computing. And since chip sales are mostly made in US dollars, the strength of the currency means those sales will have been worth more when converted back into Korean won. That might be why Samsung said it’s expecting overall revenue to have grown 21% last quarter from the same time last year – even as analysts anticipate a steep dropoff in smartphone sales.
Why should I care?
For markets: A nice surprise.
Keep in mind that the chip industry isn’t a monolith: analysts have pointed out that particularly acute shortages of certain types of chip could help offset a slowdown in demand elsewhere in the market. And now that Samsung has released such a promising preview, investors might be feeling reassured that the slowdown for tech manufacturers will be less severe than they thought. That could be why they pushed up the share prices of Samsung, SK Hynix, TSMC, and United Microelectronics on Thursday, with the four Asian chipmakers gaining around $30 billion in market value.
Zooming out: Chips or death.
There are signs that the chip supply chain issues might finally have peaked, with data out this week showing that the gap between ordering and delivery fell in June. That’ll be welcome news for companies like Toyota and Apple, which have lost billions of dollars in revenue because they couldn’t get their hands on the chips they needed.