TSMC sales up on mobile chip demand

CHIPMAKERS::Smaller peer UMC and driver IC maker Vanguard also saw sales last month rise from a year ago, but flat-panel TV chipmaker MStar reported a decline

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 09, 2013 - Page 13

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, yesterday reported that revenue last month rose 21.5 percent from a year ago because of growing demand for its 28-nanometer (nm) chips for smartphones.

Revenue expanded to NT$41.18 billion (US$1.39 billion) last month, from NT$33.89 billion in February last year. However, it was down 13.2 percent from NT$47.44 billion in January. That brought accumulated revenue in the first two months of the year to NT$88.62 billion.

The company had said earlier that it expects revenue this quarter to drop by between 1.76 percent and 3.28 percent sequentially to between NT$127 billion and NT$129 billion, compared with last quarter’s NT$131.31 billion.

Credit Suisse semiconductor analyst Randy Abrams, whose revenue forecast of NT$128.2 billion was at the higher end of TSMC’s target, yesterday further raised his estimate to NT$131.5 billion.

“The company has seen a combination of order pull-ins ahead of smartphone launches, continued Apple-related order adjustments and some order shifts to other foundries as 28nm grows more mature,” Abrams said in a report.

Abrams maintained an “outperform” rating on the company, citing “TSMC’s opportunities in mobile [markets] and rising share of industry manufacturing.”

TSMC counts US handset chip designer Qualcomm Inc as one of its top clients. Qualcomm supplies chips to the world’s major handset makers, including HTC Corp (宏達電), which debuted its latest flagship model, the new HTC One smartphone, in Taiwan on Thursday.

Last month, TSMC chairman and chief executive Morris Chang (張忠謀) said he expected a relatively strong quarter for TSMC as companies step up launches of new mobile products.

He added that 28nm chips would be TSMC’s major revenue growth driver for this year, with mobile chips for smartphones and tablets dominating.

Meanwhile, local rival United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) yesterday reported that revenue last month rose 3.41 percent to NT$8.73 billion, compared with NT$8.44 billion in the same month last year, after including revenue from its Chinese subsidiary He Jian Technology (Suzhou) Co (和艦科技) for the first time.

However, on a monthly basis, UMC’s sales dropped 6.46 percent from NT$9.45 billion in January.

The company had said earlier that it expected revenue this quarter to be flat from the last quarter’s NT$26.09 billion, as a 6 percent drop in average selling prices would offset a 6 percent sequential growth in shipments.

Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp (世界先進), which manufactures driver ICs for flat panels, also reported that revenue last month climbed 44.2 percent to NT$1.43 billion from NT$994 million a year earlier. Like the other two, sales last month dropped 14 percent from NT$1.67 billion in January because of fewer working days.

MStar Semiconductor Inc (晨星半導體), the world’s biggest supplier of chips used in flat-panel TVs, bucked the trend by reporting that revenue last month fell 17.7 percent to NT$2.39 billion from NT$2.91 billion a year earlier. Sales were also down 10.3 percent from NT$2.67 billion in January.

MStar is expected to be merged with the nation’s biggest handset chip supplier, MediaTek Inc (聯發科), in May, if Chinese and South Korean competition watchdogs approve the deal.