SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, is expected to report a smaller-than-earlier operating income estimate due to the weakness of the U.S. dollar, industry sources said Sunday.

According to the sources, Samsung, also the world’s largest smartphone vendor, is likely to report an operating income of 9.74 trillion won (US$8.95 billion) during the fourth quarter of last year, up 36.8 percent from a year earlier.

But the latest estimate is slightly lower than the 10.16 trillion won projected a month earlier.

Samsung reported an operating income of 12.35 trillion won during the third quarter of last year, the highest in over two years, driven by rising chip demand and a recovery in smartphone demand.

But during the October-December period, the global resurgence in virus cases and the weaker dollar may hurt the tech giant’s profitability.

“Samsung may have racked up 4.3 trillion won in operating income during the last quarter, smaller than the third quarter’s 5.5 trillion won because of the weak dollar,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.

The analyst said lockdowns in Europe had reduced demand for smartphones.

Going forward, Samsung may rack up decent profit this year on the back of a continued boom in the semiconductor sector and a recovery in the smartphone segment.

Shinhan Investment Corp. projected this year’s operating income for Samsung at 47.51 trillion won, up 31.7 percent from last year.

Aided by rosy earnings estimates, a slew of brokerages raised their target prices for Samsung Electronics to a 90,000 won range.

Shares in Samsung closed at 81,000 won Wednesday, the last trading day of 2020, moving up 3.45 percent from the previous session’s close.

This file photo shows Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Note 20 smartphone displayed at a store in Seoul. (Yonhap)