TSMC may secure earlier Apple chip orders: brokerage

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Dec 10, 2012 - Page 14

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, is likely to secure orders from Apple Inc to produce next-generation processors “starting as early as the second quarter of 2013,” Credit Suisse said last week.

The projected timeframe would come “earlier than expected,” Manish Nigam, head of the brokerage’s non-Japan Asia technology research division, said in note to clients on Friday, citing their recent checks with several equipment suppliers and other companies in Japan, Taiwan and China.

Previously, Credit Suisse said it expected Apple would seek a second source for its chips other than Samsung Electronics Co by either late next year or early 2014.

Nigam said their checks also suggested Apple might start chip production at TSMC by using the Taiwanese firm’s 28-nanometer (nm) technology, rather than its prior views on the 20nm node.

“If our checks are correct, the market would take this move as a surprise,” Nigam wrote in the note, although he said it was still hard to determine which product is going to be manufactured at TSMC.

Nevertheless, the brokerage said any new product would be a net addition to demand and therefore it was increasingly confident about the prospects for TSMC and Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (ASE, 日月光半導體), which is expected to package the chips, in the belief that the two companies will be ramping up capacity for a sizeable new customer starting some time in the first quarter of next year.

The brokerage on Friday upgraded shares of TSMC to “outperform” from “neutral,” and raised its target price from NT$95 to NT$109.

Shares in TSMC ended at NT$98.1 in Taipei trading on Friday, up 1.55 percent from the previous session, while ASE’s closed 0.2 percent up at NT$24.75, down 4.44 percent so far this year, according to data from the Taiwan Stock Exchange.