January 31, 2023

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TSMC cuts capex for 2023 after recording a fourth quarter with weak chip demand

  • Fourth-quarter profit of NT$295.9 billion, compared to NT$289.44 billion, analysts say
  • Fourth-quarter revenue increased 26.7% year-over-year to $19.93 billion
  • Capex achieved 2023 at $32-36 billion compared to $36.3 billion in the previous year
  • The company plans to increase production abroad

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwanese chip maker TSMC (2330.TW) He warned Thursday that first-quarter revenue will drop as much as 5% and lower annual investment like a major Apple (AAPL.O) The resource expects weaker demand due to the slowdown in the global economy.

The downward outlook follows a 78%-beaten jump in fourth-quarter earnings, underlining the depth of a sharp slowdown in a global technology sector grappling with slumping consumer demand caused by decades-high inflation, rising interest rates, and an economic downturn.

However, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world’s most valuable chipmaker, expected growth to return in the second half of this year.

“We expect the semiconductor cycle to hit rock bottom sometime in the first half and see a recovery in the second half of 2023,” CEO CC Wei said, adding that the recovery will be boosted by new product launches such as AI-enabled goods.

The world’s largest chipmaker said its capital expenditures in 2023 will fall to $32-36 billion from $36.3 billion in 2022.

Hopes of a recovery in the second half of the year and supply-management capex cuts sent TSMC-listed US shares up 7.5%.

First-half revenue is expected to post a mid-to-high single-digit decline. First-quarter revenue is expected to be between $16.7 billion and $17.5 billion, compared to $17.57 billion a year earlier.

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TSMC’s dominance in making some of the most advanced chips for high-end customers like Apple has kept it from shrinking. But the company is likely to fall victim to an increasing slowdown, as the current quarter is likely to mark its first decline in sales in four years.

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The fourth quarter was “dampened by weak market demand and customer inventory adjustment,” Chief Financial Officer Wendell Huang said at a press briefing, adding that such conditions would continue into the first quarter.

“Given the near-term uncertainty, we continue to manage our business prudently and tighten our capital spending where appropriate,” Huang said. “Our disciplined capex and capacity planning remains based on the long-term market demand profile.”

TSMC, Asia’s Most Valuable Listed Company, Backed by Warren Buffett’s Billionaire Investment Conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKA.N)He said repeatedly that the business will continue to benefit from the “explosive trend” of demand for high-performance computing chips for 5G networks and data centers, as well as the increasing use of chips in tools and vehicles.

She confirmed on Thursday that slowing demand was a cyclical issue and 2023 overall will be a slight growth year for the company.

TSMC said it plans to ramp up production outside of Taiwan, as global attention is focused on its investment plan and various governments offering incentives to boost chip manufacturing in their countries.

It said at least a fifth of the 28 nanometer (nm) and more advanced node capacity, which accounts for most of the company’s revenue in 2022, could be offshore “in five years or more.”

TSMC late last year began building a second chip plant in Arizona that will begin production in 2026, using an advanced 3nm process. Its total investment in the US project is $40 billion.

CEO Wei said TSMC was considering building a second fab in Japan, and in Europe it was also evaluating the possibility of building a custom auto-focused fab, without elaborating.

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He added that the company expects “the shortage of automotive chips to quickly diminish.”

For the October-December period, TSMC posted a record net profit of NT$295.9 billion (US$9.72 billion) from NT$166.2 billion a year earlier. That compares to the NT$289.44 billion average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

Revenue increased 26.7% to $19.93 billion, against TSMC’s previous estimate range of $19.9 billion to $20.7 billion.

TSMC’s share price is down 27.1% in 2022, but is up 8.5% so far this year, giving the company a market value of $412.78 billion. The stock rose 0.4 percent on Thursday, compared to a 0.1 percent decline in the benchmark index (.TWII).

($1 = 30.4420 Taiwanese dollars)

Additional reporting by Yimou Li and Sarah Wu. Written by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Christopher Cushing and Connor Humphreys

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.