TSMC announces sales drop
The world's largest contract microchip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), said its sales last month came in at NT$26.18 billion (US$808 million), down 4.5 percent from the NT$27.42 billion in December last year.
However, the January sales rose 25.6 percent from a year earlier, TSMC said.
TSMC had earlier warned that it expects sequential declines in both sales and profit margins in the first quarter to March as a result of seasonal as well as exchange-rate factors.
First-quarter sales are expected to drop to NT$73 to NT$76 billion from NT$81.16 billion in the fourth quarter last year.
"Other than seasonal weakness, the New Taiwan dollar's recent appreciation is expected to cost TSMC 4 percent of its sales in the current quarter," TSMC chief financial officer Lora Ho (何麗梅) said.
TSMC expects its gross margin in the current quarter to decline to 46-48 percent from 49.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, with operating margin seen falling to 39 percent from 42.2 percent.
Advantest petitions court
Advantest Corp, the world's biggest maker of memory-chip testing equipment, said that it had petitioned a Taiwanese court to prevent a South Korean rival from selling and importing testers to the nation because of patent violations.
Tokyo-based Advantest made the filing to the Hsinchu District Court against South Korea's TechWing Inc, according to a faxed release yesterday. TechWing's memory testers violated three of Advantest's patents, the Japanese company said.
Advantest said it filed a suit against TechWing in South Korea in December 2004 to stop sales and is seeking damages for violating its patents. The case is pending, Advantest said.
Bad debts hit local banks
The spiraling problem of consumer bad debts has seriously dented local banks' profitability, halving the total pre-tax income of local banks to NT$78.6 billion last year from NT$155.3 billion in 2004, which marked the largest drop in profits ever, according to preliminary figures of the Banking Bureau.
Up to 13 out of 46 local banks incurred pre-tax losses, including Chang Hwa Bank (彰化銀行) and Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀) that saw a deficit of over NT$10 billion after making tens of billions of provision expenses last year, the figures showed.
Total reserves of local banks to cover defaulted loans more than tripled to NT$243 billion last year from NT$78.1 billion in 2004, according to the Financial Supervisory Commission's statistics.
The surge in provision was caused by the snowballing bad debts of credit and cash card lending as well as the new definition of non-performing loans to halve the default period to 90 days that took effect last July.
Bank of Taiwan head announced
The Ministry of Finance announced on Thursday that Hsu Teh-nan (許德南), president of Hua Nan Financial Holdings Co (華南金控), will chair the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行). The state-run bank's chairmanship was left vacant after Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) was appointed as finance minister last month.
Hsu, 63, served as president of Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫銀行), executive vice president at Lank Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行) and general manager at the Bank of Taiwan.
NT dollar rises
The New Taiwan dollar rose against the US dollar on the Taipei Foreign Exchange yesterday, gaining NT$0.153 to close the day at NT$32.267.
A total of US$971 million changed hands during the day's trading.