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Brisk smartphone sales meant Samsung has predicted its operating profit in the first three months of the year will have risen by 53 percent to the equivalent of just under six billion euros.

And that is in the so-called off-peak period after the end of year holiday season when sales are weaker.

The South Korean giant continues to make gains against Apple’s iPhone because its range of over 30 smartphone models cover nearly all price points.

The Galaxy S and Note series have fuelled Samsung’s record-breaking earnings growth. But as the high-end market swarms with new offerings, Samsung is turning to less affluent customers in emerging markets, offering cheaper models such as the Rex and Galaxy Pop, analysts said.

“Increasing sales of mid-tier products on top of the usual solid sales of its flagship models of the Galaxy S and Note probably helped Samsung fare better than its peers,” said Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

“The first quarter will be the bottom of its earnings cycle for this year, and things will only get better from here as it rolls out new mobile products.”

The operating profit guidance was released ahead of full quarterly results due out by April 26.

Samsung’s share slipped as investors had hoped for better.

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