The world's two largest chip foundries, TSMC and UMC, both saw significant sales growth during their third fiscal quarters, the companies reported this week.
TSMC saw net sales rise 37 per cent year-on-year to $1.6 billion, which represents a sequential gain of ten per cent. Net profit for the quarter rise 29 per cent on Q2 and 380 per cent on Q3 2002 to $443 million.
UMC's net income rose to $124 million, up 56 per cent on Q2 and 195 per cent on the year-ago quarter. Q3 revenue totalled $638 million, a 12.5 per cent rise on the same period last year, but down fractionally on Q2. Accounting for the discrepancy between the rise in income and the 0.8 per cent dip in sales, UMC revealed that more than half of its Q3 income came from the $65 million sale of its stakes in IC designer Mediatek Inc and LCD panel supplier AU Optronics.
TSMC said its capacity utilisation rate had now hit 98 per cent. UMC expects to move beyond 90 per cent utilisation during the current quarter, from Q3's figure of 84 per cent. Wafer shipments will rise ten per cent this quarter, said UMC, after a Q2-to-Q3 dip of 0.7 per cent.
TSMC's Q4 utilisation will drop to 95 per cent, it said, thanks to a seasonal decline in orders from the computing and consumer sectors. Wafer shipments will grow by 5-9 per cent during Q4, it added. Average selling prices will fall by five per cent or less. UMC said it expects Q4 ASPs to stay flat.
TSMC said it will spend $500 million on capital expenditure during Q4, taking its 2003 total to $1.2 billion. The company added that capex will rise next year, though it declined to put a figure on the increase. At least one analyst has said it expects the 2004 figure to come between $1.8 billion and $2.2 billion.
TSMC's spending arises from a fast ramp of its 30mm wafer output. UMC's has been slower, but it said it expects to speed things up next year. Some $150 million of the $500 million it originally planned to spend on its fabs this year has been knocked back to Q1 2004. ®