A major chipmaker unveiled disappointing earnings and warned of the future — then its shares soared

Shares of major chipmaker SK Hynix bounced on Tuesday even after the company reported quarterly earnings which missed expectations.

The South Korean firm’s stock surged 5.54 percent on the day. Industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics also saw its shares closed 2.5 percent higher.

The surge in prices came in spite of SK Hynix warning of continued “macroeconomic uncertainties” in 2019.

SK Hynix reported that October-December operating profit was 4.4 trillion won ($3.9 billion) — falling below a 5.1 trillion won average forecast drawn from 26 analysts, according to Refinitiv data. One of the world’s largest memory chipmakers, the company attributed the profit decline — its first in two years — to lower chip prices.

Company Vice President Sean Kim said the memory demand slowdown would be bigger than expected into the first half of 2019 due to China’s economic slowdown and the U.S.-China “trade situation,” according to Reuters.

Kim’s comments came days after China announced that the country’s economic growth in 2018 was its slowest in nearly three decades. At the same time, Beijing and Washington are attempting to strike a deal amid an ongoing trade dispute which has seen the two largest economies in the world slap billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other’s goods.

Some analysts were not surprised by the earnings report from SK Hynix.

“(The) results were as expected,” Daniel Yoo, head of global strategy at Kiwoom Securities, told CNBC in an email.

However, he warn that both SK Hynix and its rival Samsung were likely to see their operating profit for the first two quarters of 2019 coming in “less than half of last year’s record high(s).”

Yoo’s sentiments were echoed by Sanjeev Rana, a senior analyst at CLSA.

“I think we have a little bit more pain to go for the next two quarters,” Rana told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.

The latest developments in South Korea’s semiconductor space came weeks after industry heavyweight Samsung that its fourth-quarter earnings were likely to have seen a steep drop off.

Stocks of chipmakers were slammed last year by wide-ranging concerns from slowing global smartphone sales to a deceleration in China’s economic growth. Following a tumultuous 2018, some analysts said a turnaround could be due later this year.

“The speed of this downturn is happening faster than usual, which should be a good thing,” said a report from asset management firm AllianceBernstein in early January.

Industry profits in the memory chips sector could bottom out in the second quarter of 2019 before stabilizing in the second half of the year, analysts from AllianceBernstein said. They are expecting a recovery in 2020, and project “over 70% potential upside” for Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron Technology.

“Share prices are moving ahead of (an) expected recovery” in the second half of 2019, Yoo said.

— Reuters and CNBC’s Chery Kang contributed to this report.

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