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Smartphone sales drive Samsung’s fourth-quarter profits

Estimated to have sold 63 million smartphones.

Samsung Electronics has posted a net income of 7.04tn Korean won (£4.2bn) for the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 76 per cent compared to the same period a year ago, despite tough competition from its rival Apple.

During the quarter, the company's handsets division posted an operating profit of 5.44tn Korean won (2011: 2.56tn Korean won), while displays unit, which made losses in third-quarter, turned to profits.

Strong performance of Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets during the quarter helped the company to achieve record profits. Although Samsung did not revealed exact number of smartphones sold, industry analysts estimate that approximately 63 million were sold during the quarter.

Lee Se-chul of Seoul-based Meritz Securities told the BBC: “Overall its earnings momentum remains intact. Smartphone shipments will continue to grow, even in the traditionally weak first quarter, as Samsung’s got a broader product line-up and Apple appears to be struggling in pushing iPhone volumes aggressively.”

The company, in a statement, said: “The furious growth spurt seen in the global smartphone market last year is expected to be pacified by intensifying price competition, compounded by a slew of new products.

“In the first quarter, demand for smartphones in developed countries is expected to decelerate, while their emerging counterparts will see their markets escalate with the introduction of more affordable smartphones and a bigger appetite for tablet PCs throughout the year.”

Cautioning on rising competition in the smartphone area, the firm decided to spend its capital this year on par with 2012 levels.

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Lord Geoffrey Howe dies, age 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.