UMC reports sales drop of 3 percent

SLOW QUARTER::The Hsinchu-based company was not the only computer chip firm whose sales declined, as VIS and ASE’s sales dropped 14.6% and 0.7% respectively

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 - Page 12

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電), the world’s second-largest contract chipmaker, saw sales drop by about 3 percent in the last quarter from the previous quarter after posting weaker sales for last month.

The Hsinchu-based company said sales reached NT$8.1 billion (US$268.3 million) last month, down 0.49 percent month-on-month and 20.37 percent less than a year earlier, according to a statement.

During the October-to-December quarter, UMC’s sales totaled NT$24.43 billion, which was 3.02 percent lower than the NT$25.19 billion it reported in the third quarter.

The quarterly figure compared with a sequential decline of 5 percent forecast by Deutsche Securities analyst Michael Chou (周立中), who said it was better than the 5.5 percent UMC had predicted earlier.

At an investors’ conference on Oct. 26 last year, UMC projected that overall factory utilization would drop to between 65 and 69 percent in the fourth quarter from 74 percent in the third quarter, as excessive inventory and sagging end-product demand might cut orders.

For the whole of last year, UMC said sales totaled NT$105.88 billion, down 12.08 percent from 2010.

Meanwhile, smaller foundry operator Vanguard International Semiconductor Co (VIS, 世界先進) yesterday said sales dropped 16.4 percent to NT$1.05 billion last month from the same month in 2010.

“Due to fewer wafer shipments, net sales for December decreased around 15 percent compared with November,” company spokesperson D.L. Tseng (曾棟樑) said in a statement. “Accumulated net sales for January to December 2011 decreased about 5 percent compared with NT$16.03 billion for the same period last year.”

In the fourth quarter, the Hsinchu-based foundry supplier of driver ICs used in PC and TV flat panels saw sales drop by 14.6 percent quarter-on-quarter and 2.73 percent year-on-year to NT$3.31 billion on weaker end demand.

However, last quarter’s performance was stronger than the company’s projection in October last year. On Oct. 27, Tseng told investors the company’s wafer shipment would “decrease by a high-20s percentage quarter-on-quarter” in the fourth quarter, citing the uncertainties of global economic outlook and weak demand in end market.

At the time, Tseng also predicted the firm’s fab utilization rate would stay in the high-50s in the fourth quarter, while gross margin would drop to a low single-digit rate.

Meanwhile, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光半導體), the world’s top supplier of chip packaging and testing services, yesterday also reported better-than-expected sales for last quarter. The Greater Kaohsiung-based company said in a separate statement that its consolidated sales was NT$14.94 billion last month, down 4.9 percent month-on-month and 23.6 percent lower year-on-year.

As a result, sales totaled NT$46.39 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, registering declines of 0.7 percent from the third quarter and 12.9 percent from a year ago.

In October, the company projected a sequential decline of between 3 and 4 percent in fourth-quarter sales.

ASE posted NT$185.35 billion in overall sales last year, down 1.8 percent from NT$188.74 billion in 2010, company data showed.