Fri, May 02, 2003 - Page 10 News List

UMC's net profit rises 87 percent in first quarter 2003

PERFORMANCE COUNTS The custom-made chip company handily outperformed TSMC, increasing its gross margin nearly 10 percent

BLOOMBERG , HSINCHU

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the world's second-largest supplier of made-to-order chips, said first-quarter profit rose by 87 percent as US sales gained and margins improved.

Net income totaled NT$403 million (US$11.6 million) compared with NT$216 million a year earlier. Sales, announced previously, rose by 47 percent to NT$17.9 billion from NT$12.2 billion.

UMC outperformed its larger rival, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), which had a one-third drop in profit and a 9.9 percent rise in sales. UMC and some investors said they expected the smaller company to make further gains against its rival.

UMC said sales to companies in the US accounted for 39 percent of total revenue in the first quarter from 29 percent in the year-ago period.

The company's gross margin, or the percentage of sales after production costs, rose to 15.3 percent from 5.5 percent in the same period a year ago.

UMC predicted that second-quarter average sales prices will be unchanged from the first quarter.

The company forecast that its second-quarter shipments of silicon wafers, the material from which chips are cut, will increase by 20 percent from the period ended in March this year.

The company said its factory use will rise to 80 percent in the second quarter. It used 67 percent of capacity in the first quarter compared with 50 percent a year ago.

The company's strongest demand in the second quarter will come from buyers of personal computer chips, UMC said. Demand for chips used in cell phones and consumer electronics products should also improve, it said.

On Wednesday UMC rose 1.01 percent, or NT$0.2, to close at NT$20 after better than expected first-quarter earnings. Markets were closed for the Labor day holiday yesterday.

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