Foundry operator Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp (世界先進) yesterday said it expects wafer shipments to increase 2 percent to 4 percent sequentially this quarter on the back of strong demand for driver integrated circuits (ICs) used in large flat panels.
The shipments forecast would bring Vanguard’s wafer shipments to between 421,260 and 429,520 units this quarter, from 413,000 units last quarter, company president Fang Leuh (方略) told investors at a quarterly meeting in Taipei.
“After a quarter of inventory adjustments, our clients increased their orders for display driver ICs, especially those used in large flat-panel TVs,” Fang said.
Supported by robust demand for smartphones and tablets, the Hsinchu-based firm also saw a pick-up in orders for driver ICs used in smaller-sized panels, Fang said.
The increased orders are forecast to boost Vanguard’s factory utilization rate to about 100 percent this quarter.
However, the company’s blended average selling prices for its products are estimated to decrease by 3 percent to 5 percent this quarter, he added.
Vanguard reported a net profit of NT$1.12 billion (US$37 million) for the final quarter of last year, up 53 percent from the NT$739 million recorded during the same period in 2012.
However, the figure was down 8 percent from the NT$1.22 million seen in the previous quarter.
That translates into earnings per share of NT$0.7 for last quarter, compared with NT$0.47 a year ago and NT$0.76 in the previous quarter.
For the whole of last year, Vanguard’s annual profit surged to a record-high level of NT$4.37 billion, or earnings per share of NT$2.71, increasing 88 percent from NT$2.33 billion in 2012.
“Driver ICs used in mobile devices helped buoy our sales and net profit last year,” Fang said.
Citing limited visibility, Fang forecast that Vanguard’s gross margin this quarter would stay in the “mid-thirties” range, compared with last quarter’s 33 percent.
Sales of ICs — including driver ICs and power management ICs — used in PCs accounted for 40 percent of Vanguard’s total sales last quarter, followed by consumer electronics at 24 percent and communication products at 23 percent.
Among IC sales, the contribution from power management ICs increased 1 percent quarter-on-quarter to account for 35 percent of the company’s total sales last quarter as increasing numbers of high-end smartphones and tablets come equipped with quad-core chipsets that require high-power consumption, Fang said.
As part of the company’s expansion plan, Vanguard plans to increase capital expenditure 47.14 percent to about NT$1.03 billion this year from NT$700 million last year, Fang said.