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Samsung profit plunge exposes smartphone king's deeper problems

Excessive ambition, high costs and leadership void make it harder to fend off rivals

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics' profit decline has exposed a string of challenges that threaten to dethrone the world's largest smartphone maker.

The South Korean conglomerate on Friday said its operating profit fell more than 60% on the year in the first quarter, hit by sinking prices of display panels and memory chips. Profit margins remain high, but three major factors may hamper the company's ability to bounce back: an excessive focus on quality and complex features, high costs and the absence of a leader to rally around.

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