Profit at chipmaker TSMC soars as demand beats virus disruption

But the rise may be short-lived as major client Apple lowers its outlook due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Foxconn factory
Demand for more advanced semiconductor chips has been supported by clients who are investing in 5G technology and artificial intelligence, according to TSMC [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) first-quarter net profit almost doubled, beating analyst estimates, as strong demand for faster chips helped offset disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker, whose clients include tech companies such as iPhone maker Apple Inc, said profit in the January-to-March period was T$116.987 billion ($3.89bn), up 90.6 percent from a year earlier.

That was higher than the T$105.83 billion ($3.52bn) average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

Buoyed by demand for advanced chips from clients investing in 5G technology and artificial intelligence, TSMC’s revenue rose 45.2 percent to $10.31bn, versus its forecast range of $10.2bn to $10.3bn.

The earnings growth may, however, only be a short reprieve as pandemic-induced job losses and other economic pain hurt global demand for consumer electronics and major clients grapple with supply chain disruptions and factory shutdowns.

Gartner last week slashed its forecast for global semiconductor revenue in 2020 to a decline of 0.9 percent from its previous estimate of 12.5 percent growth.

Apple, a major TSMC client, rescinded its outlook for the first quarter of 2020, saying manufacturing in China had taken longer than expected to resume amid travel restrictions and an extended Lunar New Year break.

Shares in TSMC were down 0.4 percent before the results. They have fallen more than 13 percent this year.

Source: Reuters