(Bloomberg) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. expects a return to solid growth this quarter and gave itself room to raise capital spending in 2024, suggesting the world’s most valuable chipmaker anticipates a recovery in smartphone and computing demand.
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The main chipmaker to Apple Inc. and Nvidia Corp. projected revenue growth of at least 8% to $18 billion to $18.8 billion in the March quarter, versus expectations for around $18.2 billion. And it’s budgeting capital expenditure of $28 billion to $32 billion, potentially up from 2023’s $30 billion.
The Taiwanese company’s outlook, while not quite surpassing the most bullish estimates, comes after a years-long slump in tech demand. But signs of a recovery for the chipmaking sector have emerged in recent weeks. The Semiconductor Industry Association estimated chip sales increased in November after more than a year of declines. Chief Executive Officer C. C. Wei reiterated he expects a return to “healthy growth” this year.
TSMC, which also counts Android chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. among its biggest customers, got a boost from frenzied demand for Nvidia’s artificial intelligence chips in 2023. It reported net income for the fourth quarter of NT$238.7 billion ($7.6 billion), beating the average analyst estimate. Revenue was $625.5 billion, TSMC reported earlier, matching the previous holiday quarter and arresting a series of falls.
“Our business has bottomed out on a year-over-year basis, and we expect 2024 to be a healthy growth year for TSMC,” Wei said.
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What Bloomberg Intelligence Says
TSMC could lead global chip foundries through 2023-24 industry headwinds thanks to growing AI chip demand and migration to next-gen process nodes such as N3 in 2H23 and N2 by 2025. Although the smartphone and PC chip market remains stagnant, TSMC’s advanced packaging tech, both 2.5D and 3D, fortifies its position in the contract-chipmaking market, allowing a potential return to a 53% gross margin following a brief 2H downturn.
— Charles Shum, analyst
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TSMC’s revenue should grow in the low- to mid-20% range this year, Wei said. That’s a rebound from the modest decline of last year.
Over the course of 2023, TSMC moderated its capital expenditure plans as the consumer electronics industry grappled with a glut of unsold inventory.
But uncertainty persists. This month, fellow chipmaker Samsung Electronics Co. posted its sixth successive quarter of declining operating profit, as it weathered the impact of muted consumer demand in its own smartphone and memory businesses.
Questions also overshadow China, the world’s largest computing, smartphone, internet and chip market.
Apple — long one of TSMC’s most important customers — faced headwinds with its latest iPhone generation. Several analysts downgraded Apple on expectations of soft demand, and Jefferies has said the iPhone sales slump in China is likely to deepen. The US company has also been hit by a widening ban on foreign-device use among Chinese agencies and state-owned companies.
–With assistance from Debby Wu.
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