Samsung Electronics estimates that 4Q operating income was down 37 percent

Samsung Electronics Co. has estimated a 37 percent annual drop in its fourth-quarter operating income.

In its earnings preview Thursday, Samsung put its October-December operating profit at 5.2 trillion won ($4.7 billion). Analysts' consensus was 4.9 trillion won according to FactSet, a financial data provider.

The better-than-expected preliminary result will still sent the full year's profit for 2014 to the lowest level since 2011.

Sales dropped 12 percent to 52 trillion won, in line with analysts' consensus. Samsung releases its full financial results later this month.

Analysts said its smartphone business, which contributed two-thirds of its profit in the last two years, continued to struggle but improvements in its semiconductor division helped the company rebound from the third quarter, its worst quarter in nearly three years.