South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics has today flagged a jump of more than 25% in fourth quarter operating profit.

Pandemic-induced working from home is driving demand for devices powered by its chips. 

The world's biggest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips said it expected operating profit of 9 trillion won ($8.23 billion) for October to December, up from 7.16 trillion won a year earlier. 

The prediction was slightly short of analyst forecasts of 9.34 trillion won, compiled by market researcher FnGuide, but Samsung shares jumped on the news, closing over 7% higher in Seoul. 

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the world economy, but has also seen many tech companies boom. 

LG Electronics, South Korea's second-largest appliance firm after Samsung, forecast its highest-ever fourth-quarter operating profit on Friday, projecting it would soar more than five-fold year-on-year to 647 billion won. 

South Korea as a whole saw a return to quarter-on-quarter growth in the third quarter last year, driven by a better-than-expected exports performance. 

Samsung Electronics is crucial to the country's economic health - its overall turnover is equivalent to a fifth of the national gross domestic product. 

It is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung group, by far the largest of the family-controlled conglomerates known as chaebols that dominate business in the world's 12th-largest economy. 

Samsung's operating profit and 61-trillion-won sales forecast were both lower than its third-quarter figures, when its mobile and chip businesses were boosted by US sanctions against Chinese tech giant Huawei. 

Analysts say a stronger won, and rival Apple's October launch of its flagship iPhone 12, were among the factors behind the quarter-on-quarter decline in profits.

Looking forward, analysts said the company's outlook for 2021 was fairly stable, driven by continued demand for memory, and growth in the consumer electronics and chip-manufacturing businesses. 

They also expected Samsung's mobile business to improve, with the firm unveiling its latest lineup of flagship Galaxy phones next week. 

Meanwhile, the global chip-manufacturing industry is expected to see record revenue this year, with the stay-at-home economy persisting because of the pandemic, according to Taipei-based market tracker TrendForce. 

"2021 will be a year for the growth of Samsung foundry (chip-manufacturing) business," Sujeong Lim, an analyst at market observer Counterpoint, told AFP. 

"Demand for semiconductors such as 5G, IoT (Internet of Things), and high-performance smartphones is exploding," the analyst added. 

Samsung's fourth quarter figures come about two months after the burial of late chairman Lee Kun-hee, who turned Samsung Electronics into a global powerhouse. 

But his son, and the firm's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, is awaiting the verdict in his retrial over a sprawling corruption scandal, which could see him return to prison. 

The ruling is due later this month and a conviction could deprive the firm of its top decision-maker after prosecutors requested a nine-year jail term.