Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) confirmed its most profitable quarter on record Tuesday
The world's biggest chip and smartphone maker said operating profit for the three months ending in September came in at 14.53 trillion Korean won ($12.91 billion), a 23.4% increase from the same period last year, on sales of around 62 trillion Korean won.
Samsung also pledged to return 26 billion Korean won to shareholders over the next three years, doubling its annual dividend to 9.6 trillion Korean won. That will put around 50% of the group's free cashflow back into the hands of investors,
Capex for the full year will also be increased to a record 46.2 trillion Korean won, the company said, as it plans new factory, assembly and storage facilities to take advantage of the surge in global chip demand.
The tech group's third quarter earnings indicated a heavy reliance on chips, which generated nearly 70% of its operating profits. However, Samsung's mobile division saw a surge in profits over the quarter, to 3.3 trillion Korean won, as the previous-year period included the scuttling of its flammable Galaxy Note 7 device.
Samsung shares were marked 1.92% higher in Seoul trading to end the session at 2.754 million won, extending their year-to-date gain to around 53%, giving the company a market cap of just under $350 billion.
The quarterly profits followed news earlier this month that another of its top executives is leaving the smartphone giant.
Kwon Oh-Hyun, the group's vice president and heir apparent to the incarcerated former chairman, Jay Y. Lee, will step down after more than three decades at the world's second-biggest smartphone maker to make room for what he called "a new spirit and young leadership".
Kwon, who has been Samsung's vice chairman since 2012, will retire next March, the company said. His departure comes as Lee, the son of the company's de-facto founder, is appealing a five-year sentence for bribery and corruption in a nationwide scandal that ultimately toppled the country's first woman President, Park Geun-hye, late last year.
Last month, Samsung said pre-orders for its flagship Galaxy Note 8, which will hit stores Friday, had topped 650,000 and have steamed well past the demand recorded for Samsung's ill-fated Note 7 release last year, despite what some consider to be a hefty price tag that approaches $1,000 for even its cheapest version.
Samsung's piece of the global smartphone pie slipped 2.6 percentage points to 20.7% over the first quarter, according to industry trackers Gartner, while Apple's dipped to 13.7% from 14.8%. That said, the two groups still shifted a collective 130.6 million units, or just over one third of the worldwide total, during the first three months of the year.
However, both groups could also be courting fate as they head into 2018 with premium phones price in the $1,000 region just as customers in key Asia markets look to be more interested in cheaper options and buyers in Western European and North America suffer from "upgrade fatigue" as they hit their own personal ceiling on smartphone capabilities.
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