Earnings

World’s largest chipmaker TSMC sees biggest drop in profit in nearly five years

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A man walks past TSMC’s logo at the company’s headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Sam Yeh | AFP | Getty Images

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company reported a third-quarter profit of 211 billion New Taiwan dollars ($6.69 billion) on Thursday as weak demand for consumer electronics persists. While that was the second straight quarter of profit declines, the world’s largest contract chipmaker bested analyst expectations.

Here are TSMC’s third quarter results versus Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Revenue: 546.73 billion New Taiwan dollars ($17.28 billion), vs. NT$540.39 billion expected
  • Net income: NT$211 billion, vs. NT$191.43 billion expected

TSMC reported revenue slipped 10.83% from a year ago to NT$546.73 billion, while net income fell 24.87% from a year ago to NT$211 billion. That compares with TSMC’s guidance for third-quarter revenue between $16.7 billion and $17.5 billion.

“Our business was supported by the strong ramp of our industry-leading 3-nanometer technology and higher demand for 5-nanometer technologies, partially offset by customers’ ongoing inventory adjustment,” said TSMC in its earnings report.

The chip giant said that revenue increased 13.7% in the third quarter as compared to the second quarter.

In the second quarter, the Taiwanese firm reported a decline in quarterly profit for the first time in four years due to a post-pandemic plunge in the demand for consumer electronics like smartphones and laptops. But analysts have said inventories at smartphone and computer makers are running down and restocking demand is expected to pick up.

TSMC is the top producer of the world’s most advanced processors. The Taiwanese firm manufactures semiconductors for companies like Apple and Nvidia, that are often based on Arm architecture.

TSMC currently manufactures 3-nanometer chips and plans to start 2-nanometer mass production in 2025.

Smartphone market recovery

Canalys data showed that the global smartphone market slid just 1% in third quarter 2023, pointing to a slowdown in its decline. In the second quarter, the market plummeted 11% compared with the same period a year ago.

“Bolstered by regional recoveries and new product upgrade demand, the smartphone market recorded a double-digit sequential growth in Q3, ahead of the sales seasons,” said Canalys in a Tuesday report.

The demand for AI chips driven has boomed led by the proliferation of large language models such as ChatGPT and Chinese clones. That’s bolstered the shares of TSMC, which have surged 19% so far this year..

Last week, the U.S. extended TSMC’s exemption from U.S. trade sanctions on China, allowing it to continue shipping advanced chip equipment for its operations there.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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