Tue, Jul 08, 2003 - Page 10 News List

TSMC says sales last month set a 31-month high

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufac-turing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world's largest manufacturer of made-to-order computer chips, last month saw its highest monthly sales since December 2000, the company's spokesman Tzeng Jinnhaw (曾晉皓) confirmed yesterday.

Last month TSMC saw sales of NT$17.8 billion, NT$500 million short of the company's historical high of NT$18.3 billion in December 2000.

The second-highest monthly sales ever are due to healthy order books, Tzeng said.

"The sales increase is due to growth in customer demand, a greater increase in wafer shipments and a better product mix," he said.

TSMC also saw its factory use, or capacity-utilization rate, increase from 67 percent in the first three months of the year to 86 percent.

A policy of diversifying from computer chips to other product areas has benefited the company.

"The reason for the June sales result is that demand is picking up across different market segments, including computer, consumer electronics and communications chips," said Alfred Ying (應宗傑), an analyst at BNP Paribas in Taipei.

There are two areas where the company is seeing strong growth, another analyst said.

"TSMC is the major beneficiary of strong sales in graphics chips and wireless local-access network [LAN] chips," said Chris Hsieh (謝偉民), an analyst with ING Securities Ltd.

SARS-wary customers may have increased orders to ensure they had stock in case an outbreak of the disease interrupted production at the nation's chip-making plants.

"In the second half of May, customers placed orders as they were afraid they could not get enough product due to SARS," Ying said, adding that those orders showed up in last month's figures.

TSMC has been winning orders from major chip companies in the US and Japan who have decided to step out of the chip-making business to save costs.

There may be more outsourcing orders to come.

"We are waiting for Japan's NEC Computer Corp to outsource," Hsieh said. "NEC is the one to watch and TSMC has a good chance of winning orders from them."

The outlook for the rest of the year is also good.

"TSMC's sales will continue to grow in July and August," Hsieh said.

"The key is they have diversified and have a broad customer mix. Demand for semiconductors is experiencing a mild increase across the board," he said.

Ying agreed: "There are signs of a recovery in the semiconductor market, but in our view it will be a gradual one. TSMC will see growth of around 10 [percent] to 15 percent over the next quarter, but the overall market will not be as high as TSMC, which leads the industry and therefore has a stronger growth rate."

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