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LG’s net loss narrows in fourth quarter

SEOUL, Feb 1 – LG Electronics, the world’s third-largest mobile phone maker, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed sharply from the previous year due to increased sales of phones and televisions.

The net loss was 111.6 billion won ($99 million) in October-December compared with a loss of 256.4 billion won in the same period in 2010.

Fourth-quarter sales fell 6.01 percent from a year earlier to 13.8 trillion won, but LG posted an operating profit of 23.1 billion won, reversing a loss of 245.7 billion won.

This was helped by strong sales of flat-screen TVs during the year-end shopping season in the United States and improved shipments of high-margin smartphones, the South Korean company said.

LG’s mobile communications division posted an operating profit of 12 billion won in the fourth quarter, a turnaround from a loss of 138.8 billion won in the third quarter.

For the whole of 2011, LG’s net loss shrank to 433 billion won from 1.28 trillion won the previous year. Sales fell three percent to 54.26 trillion but operating profit rose 7.0 percent to 280 billion.

Last year, LG battled to turn around its loss-making handset operations, where it lagged Samsung and Apple in high-end smartphones packed with features.

This year it aims to achieve sales of 57.6 trillion won by focusing on strategic markets with an expanded smartphone line-up.

Analysts said LG’s loss had bottomed out in the third quarter of last year and the figure would improve through 2012.

They said LG’s 3D, ultra-display features for TVs would help it cement its position as the world’s second-largest TV marker after Samsung, especially when Japanese rivals are struggling with a stronger yen.

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The company hopes to raise the global market share of its 3D TVs to more than 25 percent this year.

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