TSMC Revenue Hurt by Exchange Rates in First Quarter

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) said exchange rates depressed first quarter revenue and earnings, exaggerating a seasonal decline, but year on year the company bounced back from its low in the first quarter of 2007.

Net income dropped by 18.4 percent compared to the previous quarter to NT$28.14 billion (US$925 million), and revenue fell by 6.8 percent to NT$87.5 billion. The first quarter is traditionally a slow quarter for chip makers, following the fourth-quarter holiday shopping season, but TSMC said revenue was dragged down an additional 2.6 percent by the strength of the New Taiwan dollar and the weakness of the U.S. dollar.

But year on year revenue rose 34.8 percent, and net income was up 49.4 percent compared to the poor performance the company recorded at the height of the chip glut in early 2007.

Along with currency issues, first quarter results also reflect a new Taiwan R.O.C. securities regulation that requires the expensing of employee profit-sharing, TSMC said, which have a slight negative impact.

Chips for communications devices, such as mobile phones, made up 42 percent of TSMC's sales, followed by 34 percent for computers, and 17 percent for consumer devices, like MP3 players. Both communications and computer memory sales were down for the quarter, by 9 percent and 12 percent, respectively, with consumer memory sales rising slightly, by 3 percent.

TSMC said demand for chips made with the 65-nanometer manufacturing process had risen by 26 times over the last five quarters, although it only accounted for 15 percent of total sales by technology for the quarter. Chips made with the older 90nm manufacturing process still represented the largest proportion of sales, at 28 percent.

The results fell within TSMC's guidance for the quarter.

"Our guidance shows pretty much flat revenue for the second quarter as the first, but if you take into account the exchange rate, you can easily calculate that in terms of U.S. dollars, it does represent about a 4 to 6 percent revenue increase," TSMC CEO and President Rick Tsai told an investor conference in Taipei via Webcast. Tsai said guidance for the second quarter would be the same as for the first quarter, estimating revenue of NT$87 to 89 billion.