This view reflects an ability to continue to develop attractive new products in a variety of sizes and price points; technology leadership in key smartphone components; and broad acceptance of the Android operating system.

Fitch recently affirmed Samsung’s rating at ‘A+’/Stable, the highest among the agency’s Asia-Pacific portfolio of rated technology companies. Fitch forecasts record revenue and EBIT again in 2012, driven by growth in the higher-margin smartphone business. The telecom segment’s EBIT margin was 18.4% in Q112, significantly higher than 10.7% in Q111, boosting the overall EBIT margin to 12.9% from 8.0%.

Samsung’s market share of smartphone unit sales has risen to a leading 31% from just 3% two years ago. In 2011, the company sold 96.7 million smartphones (Apple: 91.3 million), and 45.0 million in Q112 (Apple: 35.1 million). Apple’s unit market share increased to 24% from 16%, but Nokia (‘BB+’/Negative) plunged to 8% from 38%.

Fitch expects Samsung to maintain its number one position in terms of annual unit sales for at least the next two years, although Apple’s sales volume on a quarterly basis could overtake Samsung during the particular quarters when it releases its updated iPhone models.

Samsung has a wider range of handset models, enabling a more effective penetration of both developed and emerging markets. Samsung also continues to forge ahead as the undisputed leader for key smartphone components – including display, processor and memory chip technologies – reinforcing the likelihood that its future smartphone models will be equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Ongoing expansion of the Android OS market share, which stood at 56% in Q112 versus 23% for Apple’s iOS, suggests that the perceived gap in terms of user-preference between Apple’s iOS and Android’s OS has narrowed significantly.