“Samsung Electronics said October-December operating profit fell 18 percent to 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) from the prior quarter’s record earnings, missing analyst estimates,” Reuters reports. “Samsung is bracing itself for its weakest smartphone profit growth this year since it started making the devices in 2007, as arch rival Apple challenges its domination in China’s $80 billion market.”

“Samsung’s mobile devices business, which earns two thirds of the company’s profit, will come under pressure when Apple makes its phones available from Jan. 17 via China Mobile Ltd.,” Reuters reports. “‘Even taking into account one-off costs, the profit is lower than expected. Samsung has not provided details, but smartphone profit may have fared worse than expected, given increased marketing expenses,’ said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst at IBK Investment & Securities.”

“The guidance, released on Tuesday ahead of full quarterly results scheduled for Jan. 24, was lower than a 9.75 trillion won Thomson Reuters’ Starmine SmartEstimate of 23 analysts, which gives greater weighting to the more accurate analysts. At 8.3 trillion won, it was even below the most bearish forecast of 8.8 trillion won, and was the lowest since the 8.06 trillion won of the third quarter of 2012,” Reuters reports. “The reading would be 18 percent less than the record 10.2 trillion won of July-September as Apple enjoyed buoyant sales in the United States and Japan during the year-end holiday season.”

“The South Korean firm estimated its fourth-quarter sales at 59 trillion won, versus a market forecast of 61 trillion won,” Reuters reports. “Samsung shares have been pummelled in recent weeks by 22 analysts downgrading fourth-quarter earnings estimates over the past 30 days.”

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MacDailyNews Take: Karma is one sweet, sweet bitch.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Bill” for the heads up.]