Samsung (005930) is gearing up for its next major smartphone launch later this month but even without a new flagship smartphone, the company’s global market share reportedly surged in the first quarter this year. RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue doesn’t officially cover Samsung, but he believes that the South Korean vendor managed to dodge the typical seasonal downturn and show an increase in smartphone market share from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013. Following Samsung’s pre-announcement, Sue believes the company sold as many as 66 million smartphones last quarter — but it’s just getting started.
“We believe the operating profit upside may be driven largely by strength in the smartphone mix,” Sue wrote in a recent research note picked up by Barron’s. He thinks Samsung could sell as many as 70 million Galaxy S4 handsets this year, including 10 million units in the first month of availability. He says Samsung’s new flagship phone will outshine earlier models because it will “gain strong mind share with both carriers and consumers, especially in the absence of a new-generation iPhone.”
“Our global smartphone model estimates that Samsung may account for 35% market share in the global smartphone market in the March quarter, well ahead of our ~19-20% share estimate for Apple (AAPL),” Sue wrote. “Samsung’s expansive smartphone portfolio with a ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ approach is driving its continued strong market share gains and shipment upside.”