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Samsung founders as profit engines sputter

Declines across chips, phones and displays rattle pillar of South Korean economy

Samsung Electronics' display business fell into the red for the first time in three years last quarter. (Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics)

SEOUL -- Earnings released Tuesday by Samsung Electronics show weakness in all of its mainstay businesses, a concerning development for a trade-reliant South Korean economy that counts on the company's exports.

Operating profit for the three months through March plunged 60% on the year to 6.23 trillion won ($5.37 billion), the lowest since the July-September quarter of 2016. But while there was a single clear reason for the earlier drop-off -- namely, the battery fires in Samsung's flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone -- last quarter's results owed to broader problems.

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