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Samsung warns about slowdown in global smartphone market

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Samsung Electronics posted record first-quarter profits on Thursday, but warned about a slowdown in its display panel segment.

That could be bad news for Apple’s iPhone X.

“Generating overall earnings growth across the company will be a challenge due to weakness in the display panel segment and a decline in profitability in the mobile business amid rising competition in the high-end segment,” Samsung said in a statement.

The display panel business makes organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screens for both its own smartphones but also for the iPhone X.

Samsung said in its first-quarter earnings announcement that the display panel segment profits were “affected by the slow demand for flexible OLED panels.” For the second-quarter, the company predicted the same weakness to persist and said it would do cost-cutting and improve efficiency.

The company’s predictions came after key iPhone supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) warned about slower growth in smartphone chip sales. TSMC said its revenue forecast range for the second quarter is $7.8 billion to $7.9 billion, lower than Wall Street estimate of $8.8 billion. The company blamed “weak demand” in the mobile sector for the forecast.

Another key Apple supplier gave dramatically lower June quarter guidance. Austria-based AMS, which provides optical sensors used in the iPhone X, said it expects sales for its second quarter to be in the range of $220 million to $250 million, down nearly 50 percent from its first quarter.

Wall Street blamed poor iPhone X demand for both TSMC and AMS’ weak guidance.

One analyst predicted that Apple could be poised to kill off its iPhone X line this year.

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Armin Laschet picked as new leader of Germany’s ruling CDU party 

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Candidate for the chairmanship of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, Armin Laschet, gestures as he takes part in a discussion at the party’s headquarters in Berlin on Jan. 8, 2021.

CHRISTIAN MANG / POOL / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTIAN MANG/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

FRANKFURT, Germany — Germany’s ruling CDU party picked Armin Laschet to be its new chairman on Saturday, possibly paving the way for him to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor at elections later this year. 

Laschet is currently the prime minister of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, the most populous federal state in the country. He beat rival Friedrich Merz by 521 to 466 in a vote that was forced online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Born in 1961, he was first elected to the Bundestag (German Parliament) in 1994 and his election is seen as a continuation of Merkel’s policies, as he has pledged to keep the CDU firmly in the “middle of society.” 

With him as chairman, the CDU will likely stay on message and focus on more climate change policies and environmental topics. He has a strong Catholic background which brings him support from Christian circles within the party. 

He is a trained lawyer and also worked as a journalist at the time of German reunification between 1986 and 1991. He is seen as being very liberal and is popular with the immigrant community in his home state.

If he becomes the CDU’s candidate for chancellor at September’s elections, he could be open to various coalitions — power sharing is somewhat of a recent tradition in German politics.

He has floated the idea of a government alongside the liberals, the FDP, in a bid to win over parts of the business camp inside the CDU. But he is also seen as a natural fit for a coalition with the Greens too, as he is on good speaking terms with the party and favors environmental issues.

But the CDU’s candidate for chancellor will only be determined in the spring. And it’s not certain that the newly-elected chairman will automatically move into Merkel’s role. Markus Söder, the very popular Bavarian prime minister, and also Jens Spahn, the current health minister, may also join the race to lead Europe’s largest economy.

Merkel stepped down as leader of the CDU in 2018, and her replacement Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer quit in February 2020 after a series of communication mishaps exposed her as being too weak to lead the chancellery.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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Biden heads into inauguration with a stock market tailwind

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