LG Electronics posts loss after weak handset sales

LG's Optimus smartphone
Image caption LG has been investing heavily in a new range of smartphones

South Korea's LG Electronics has reported its first quarterly loss for almost two years as its mobile phone division continued to underperform.

The group posted a net loss of 256.4bn won ($229.5m; £145m) for the final three months of last year, against a profit of 361.9bn won a year earlier.

Sales rose by 1.8% to 14.7tn won.

LG's handset division has struggled against increasing competition from rival smartphone manufacturers such as Blackberry and Apple.

However, the world's third-biggest mobile phone maker is investing heavily in its handset business and is currently launching a range of smartphones.

"LG's handset business in expected to turn around in the first quarter and profitability will sharply improve as it launches smartphones such as the Optimus 2X and Optimus Black," said SH Lee at Mirae Asset Securities.

LG's chief financial officer, Jung Do-hyun, said the company would return to profit in the current quarter, although its efforts to gain market share in its handset division would take a little longer to bear fruit.

"Profitability will improve significantly in the first quarter and we'll be able to return to profit," he said.

"Earnings from the handset division will also improve, but are likely to remain in the red in the first quarter."

The company was also hit by weaker-than-expected demand for it flat-screen TVs.

In September last year, LG replaced its chief executive due to falling profits.

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