LG swings to Q4 loss, but G2 and Nexus 5 drive phone sales

The Korean conglomerate posts a loss pegged to currency exchange shifts, but sees smartphone shipments rise 54 percent to 13.2 million units.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
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Google's Nexus 5 will get a shot of Android 4.1.1.
LG and Google's Nexus 5. Josh Miller/CNET

LG Electronics swung to a loss in the fourth quarter, but saw signs of life flicker a little brighter in its smartphone business.

The Korean conglomerate posted a loss of 64 billion Korean won, or $59.1 million, reversing a year-ago profit of 223 Korean won, or $205.8 million. LG blamed an unfavorable shift in the foreign currency exchange rate for the year-over-year downturn.

Revenue, however, inched up 0.8 percent to 14.92 trillion Korean won, or $13.8 billion.

One of the main reasons for its slight revenue increase is the 28 percent rise in sales for the mobile communications business. The company shipped 13.2 million smartphones in the period, up 54 percent from a year ago, largely helped by sales of its G2 smartphone flagship and its Google-branded Nexus 5.

In particular, LG's strategy to focus on LTE-enabled devices seems to be paying off, with sales of those devices up 110 percent over a year ago.

Not all was so rosy, as operating profit and margins fell in the period due to higher marketing expense and competition in the market.

LG said it expects continued growth in the smartphone market, but intensifying competition as well. The company added that it would improve its brand and market position by "promptly responding to consumers' needs" with new products.

The home entertainment division, LG's biggest unit, posted a year-over-year decline in sales of 6 percent, although profitability improved due to a better mix of high-end televisions. The company expects the market for OLED televisions to pick up in 2014, gradually becoming the main driver of growth.

The home appliance division, meanwhile, saw a sales decline of 4 percent, while its air-conditioning and energy solutions division saw sales rise 8 percent over a year ago.