aSamsung Plans $8bn Refocus

SEOUL, South Korea -- Samsung Group's announced $8 billion investment in non-memory chips is designed to shield its battered profits from wild swings in the price of memory chips, industry analysts said last week.

But while analysts generally hailed the announcement, they cautioned that entry to the non-memory market would be a hard slog over many years.

Samsung announced Wednesday that it would spend 7 trillion won ($8.1 billion) over the next five years to achieve a $15 billion turnover in non-memory chips by 2005.

By that year, the sector would account for 50 percent of total Samsung semiconductor sales, up from 20 percent now, a company statement said.

Profits of flagship Samsung Electronics crashed to 164.2 billion won in 1996 from 2.5 trillion won in 1995 after a plunge in global prices for dynamic random access memory chips. Last year, the unit price of 16-megabit DRAM chips, most widely used in personal computers, fell 80 percent.