Samsung Electronics is now the biggest spender among all publicly traded companies in the world, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, citing an unspecified study conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The South Korean tech giant's capital expenditures amounted to approximately $44 billion in 2017 and convincingly surpassed the investments from oil juggernauts such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, as well as second-placed PetroChina which spent 50 percent less over the same period. A significant portion of Samsung's financial commitments is attributed to the company's memory chip efforts, with Samsung currently being in the process of trying to maintain the massive momentum it garnered over the course of this year, having managed to break Intel's dominance in the industry after 24 years.
While many industry watchers remain skeptical about Samsung's ability to continue posting record-breaking results, the firm's chip-related investments are unlikely to decline over the course of this year, with aggressive long-term expenditures being the main reason why it even managed to be in this position in the first place. Its current lack of senior leadership caused by a recent resignation of one of its three Chief Executive Officers and the imprisonment of Samsung Group Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee may slow down major mergers and acquisitions over the course of this year, though not to the point that its capital expenditures take a major hit, according to recent reports. Mobile display panels are another area in which Samsung is presently reaping significant benefits, accounting for nearly all global production of small and medium-sized OLED panels. That leading position is also expected to be challenged in the coming years as LG and Chinese companies ramp up their production capacities but Samsung is also committing massive resources to maintaining its current momentum in the display segment.
The company is expecting profits of over $14 billion in the final quarter of 2017, according to its preliminary financial report published earlier this week. The corporate uncertainty surrounding the fate of Mr. Lee who's currently appealing his five-year prison sentence for corruption is likely to have a palpable effect on Samsung's 2018 operations as the conglomerate's structure will either be strengthened following his acquittal or fragmentized even further should his term be confirmed or prolonged.