TSMC cuts forecasts on smartphone weakness

May 01, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
CC Wei, co-CEO of TSMC, said that he was cutting previous growth forecasts for the semiconductor industry and for TSMC in a recent conference call for financial analysts because of smartphone weakness.

As well as being a general warning this is being interpreted as a reference to poor sales for the Apple iPhone X – priced at $999 in the US.

However, while talking about demand for cryptocurrency mining ICs as a sales driver in 1Q18 Wei also talked a great deal about the uncertainty of cryptocurrency mining across the whole year.

For the first quarter of 2018 TSMC made a net income of NT$89.79 billion (about US$3.03 billion) on revenue of NT$248.08 billion (about US$8.37 billion). Revenue was up 6.1 percent on revenue in 1Q17.

TSMC said it expects revenue in the 2Q18 to be in the range US$7.80 billion and US$7.90 billion. This would be the result of "continued weak demand" from the mobile sector and despite strength in cryptocurrency mining.

However when commenting on the full year CC Wei said: "We forecast the overall semiconductor market, excluding memory, will grow by 5 percent, while foundry we expect to grow by about a 8 percent. We forecast TSMC's 2018 revenue growth in US dollar will be about a 10 percent, rather than the previously indicated 10 to 15 percent, due to the smartphone weakness and the uncertainty in cryptocurrency mining demand."

In January 2018, chairman Morris Chang had told analysts that the global semiconductor market would grow by between 6 and 8 percent in 2018, while the market excluding memory would grow more slowly at between 5 and 7 percent. The Foundry market overall was at that time expected to grow by between 9 and 10 percent.

In the latest quarterly financial information TSMC announced that it now expects its capital spending in 2018 to be between US$11.5 billion and US$12 billion, up from the previous forecast of between $10.5 billion to $11 billion. Extra spending is being budgeted for masking making due to high numbers of design starts at leading edge and to secure EUV lithography equipment.

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