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Apple, which is Samsung’s key customer in its semiconductor and display screen businesses, was credited for helping turn around Samsung’s display panel division into profit.

Samsung’s display panel business posted a 280 billion won profit as increased sales of lucrative 3-D TV panels and high-resolution tablet PC panels propped up the bottom line.

Samsung, which is the world’s biggest supplier of memory chips, said its operating profit from its semiconductor business in the first quarter reached 760 billion won, less than half from a year earlier. Weak demand for personal computers sapped memory chip prices and forced Tokyo-based Elpida Memory Inc. to file for bankruptcy in February.

The division that makes TVs and home appliances posted 530 billion won in operating profit. Samsung is the world’s largest maker of flat-panel TVs, a sector that it competes with LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea and Sony Corp. of Japan.