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LG Electronics net loss narrows in Q4

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South Korea’s LG Electronics said Monday its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed significantly from a year earlier thanks to improved sales of premium smartphones and TVs.

But the country’s second largest smartphone vendor said its mobile communications business would face high marketing costs and tough price competition.

LG posted a net loss of 63 billion won ($59 million) in the October-December period, compared with a loss of 478 billion won a year earlier.

Sales rose 0.8 percent year-on-year to 14.92 trillion won. Operating profit, meanwhile, doubled to 238 billion won, helped by increased margins from its TV unit.

For all of 2013 LG’s net profit jumped 117 percent from the previous year to 223 billion won. Total sales and operating profit rose 5.5 percent to 58.1 trillion won and by 5.6 percent to 1.28 trillion respectively.

In the fourth quarter LG’s mobile sector suffered an operating loss of 43.4 billion won, compared with an operating profit of 56.5 billion won a year earlier.

“We think it would be difficult for LG to generate meaningful profit from its smartphone business in the near-term,” Nomura analyst James Kim told Dow Jones Newswires.

But the company promised to step up its production lineup for premium smartphones this year, as rivals Apple and Samsung Electronics are expected to come out with new models.

“Overall market competition will intensify due to diversifying consumer needs and intensifying price competition as a result of the expansion of mass market phones,” LG said in a statement.

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