Thu, Feb 12, 2009 - Page 12 News List

SPIL reports Q4 NT$1.03bn loss

CHIPS ARE DOWN Bough Lin told investors that the firm was getting short-term orders but utilization rates would drop because long-term demand was unclear

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Siliconware Precision Industries Co (SPIL, 矽品精密), the world’s second-largest chip packager, yesterday posted its second-largest quarterly losses in eight years, blaming sagging demand and a spike in one-time asset impairment losses.

SPIL chairman Bough Lin (林文伯) yesterday reiterated his forecast that the company might rebound slowly in the second half of the year, rather than in the second quarter as some semiconductor peers have projected.

“Now we only see short-term rush orders, rather than sustainable long-run demand,” Lin told a full audience of investors and industry analysts.

New orders have mostly come from handset chip customers, helped by China’s latest economic stimulus plan to spur home appliances and handset purchases in remote areas, Lin said.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, SPIL lost NT$1.03 billion (US$30.3 million) after booking NT$294 million for asset impairment losses, compared with earnings of NT$4.77 billion a year ago and NT$3.19 billion in the third quarter of last year.

The fourth-quarter losses are smaller than the NT$1.51 billion Credit Suisse had estimated.

The last time the company posted such a large quarterly loss was the fourth quarter of 2001, when it posted losses of NT$1.19 billion.

To cope with sluggish demand, the company said it plans to more than halve its capital spending this year to NT$4 billion from NT$9.04 billion budgeted for last year.

Its factory utilization rate may go down to between 40 percent and 45 percent this quarter, from 55 percent to 70 percent last quarter, Lin said.

Lin said the company plans to distribute a cash dividend of NT$1.8 per share based on last year’s earnings of NT$6.31 billion, citing a healthy cash position.

SPIL had NT$17.87 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of last year, its financial statement shows.

The payout will cost the company NT$5.67 billion, Lin said.

He did not provide the company’s revenue guidance for this quarter, but said global chip testers and packagers may see revenues decline between 15 percent and 35 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The projection is better than the expectation of Credit Suisse semiconductor analyst Randy Abrams, who predicted SPIL would report 40 percent to 45 percent quarterly decline in revenues following in the footsteps of the world’s largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電).

On Jan. 22, TSMC forecast revenues could drop by up to 50 percent quarter-on-quarter.

Lin said the company’s average selling price might drop by 5 percent this quarter from last quarter.

Computer product shipments may drop the fastest, he said, while communications products would decline more slowly.

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