Samsung estimates Q1 operating profit of $7.7 bln

South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Friday it expected a sharp increase in first-quarter operating profit to 8.7 trillion won ($7.7 billion), up 52.9 percent from the first three months of 2012.

Samsung, the world's largest technology firm by revenue, was giving earnings guidance before official results become available.

The January-March operating estimate comes after a record quarterly operating profit of 8.8 trillion posted in the fourth quarter of last year.

Samsung profits soared in 2012, largely on the back of sales in the lucrative smartphone market.

Sales in the first quarter of 2013 were expected to reach 52 trillion won, up 14.9 percent from a year earlier, but down 7.2 percent from the previous quarter.