TSMC sales hit all-time high in April

CHIPPER FIGURES::Annual revenue growth at the world’s largest contract chipmaker topped 9 percent, with demand for 28nm chips for mobile devices exceeding supply

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 12

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s top contract chipmaker, yesterday reported a 9.1 percent annual growth in revenue to NT$40.5 billion (US$1.38 billion) last month, an all-time high as restocking demand grew at a faster-than-expected pace.

That was up from NT$37.13 billion last year. On a monthly basis, TSMC’s revenue rose 9.2 percent from NT$37.08 billion.

“This result is in line with our expectation of NT$40.4 billion,” Credit Suisse analyst Randy Abrams said in a research note yesterday. “We expect to see continued month-on-month growth into May and June.”

Last month, TSMC forecast revenue would hit a record high this quarter, ranging between NT$126 billion and NT$128 billion, which would be between 19 percent and 21 percent higher then last quarter’s NT$105.51 billion.

Sales were driven by inventory restocking and growth in the communications sector, Abrams said.

“Orders were stronger than we had expected, which allowed us to have a solid second quarter. Forecasts of incoming orders are also very strong,” TSMC chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀) said at an investor conference on April 26 in Taipei. “This means the third quarter will be a continued-growth quarter.”

Chang said at the time that the worldwide semiconductor market would grow at a faster pace than his previous estimate of 2 percent annual growth in revenue, citing encouraging macroeconomic news from the US and China, which are the chipmaker’s biggest markets.

Excluding the memorychip business, growth would be between 3 percent and 4 percent, he added.

Separately, TSMC plans to spend more than US$1 billion on research and development this year, company spokesman Elizabeth Sun (孫又文) said on the sidelines of a TSMC technology forum in Hsinchu.

That number represents about 8 percent to 9 percent of the chipmaker’s expected total revenue this year, Sun said.

Last year, TSMC spent NT$33.68 billion on research and development, or about 7.9 percent of the company’s revenue of NT$427.08 billion, according to the company’s annual financial statement posted on its Web site.

Because of stronger demand, TSMC was unable to keep up with demand for its 28-nanometer (nm) chips for mobile devices, Chang said last month.

He expected supply constraints to improve in the fourth quarter and to be fully resolved in the first quarter of next year.

TSMC is effectively the sole foundry supplying 28nm chips, Chang said, as rivals such as United Microelectronics Co (UMC, 聯電), Globalfoundries Inc and Samsung Electronics Co have not started mass producing 28nm chips.

The chipmaker expects 28nm chips to make up 20 percent of its revenue in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this week, UMC reported its strongest monthly revenue in nine months at NT$9.12 billion for last month, beating Credit Suisse’s estimate of NT$8.44 billion.

That represented 11.4 percent monthly growth from March’s NT$8.19 billion. However, it was down 4.59 percent from the NT$9.56 billion posted in April last year.