(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co.’s fourth-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates after the company distributed a special bonus and increased spending on advanced production technology for chips and displays.

South Korea’s biggest company had its fourth successive record quarter of sales in the final three months of the year, with net income rising to 10.64 trillion won ($8.9 billion), according to a statement Thursday. Analysts predicted 11.1 trillion won on average, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Samsung disclosed preliminary numbers earlier this month, including a more than 50% increase in operating profit. The company paid special bonuses to employees in late December. 

Shares of Samsung and memory-making rival SK Hynix Inc. fell in the latter half of last year on fears about price volatility, rising inventories and a cyclical downturn. Price drops proved more moderate than expected, however, as chip usage broadened across industries and memory makers took preemptive steps to stabilize supply and forestall price shocks. Samsung’s foundry business -- producing chips for customers without their own semiconductor plants -- is also helping stabilize revenues.

Samsung has expressed optimism about sustained demand for its chips through this year and is spending to accelerate development and expand production of its latest technology. Both memory and foundry divisions will require more of ASML Holdings NV’s pricey extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, which are hotly contested among chipmakers.

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“Samsung likely sold fewer memory chips in the fourth quarter while prices were higher than our projections as it strategically shifted away from selling low-end products to guard against steep price declines,” said Lee Su-bin, an analyst at Daishin Securities. “Early costs for high-volume production of advanced chips likely added to the bill.”


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