TSMC’s Q4 profit to slide 23%, focus on rebounding demand this year

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd is expected to report a 23% drop in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, but analysts predict better growth this year on the back of rebounding demand.

The likely decline in profit also reflects a strong performance in 2022, when the company, whose customers include Apple and Nvidia, was still riding high on pent-up post-pandemic demand.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker is set to report net profit of T$226.4 billion ($7.21 billion) for the October to December period – its third straight quarter of profit decline, according to an LSEG SmartEstimate drawn from 20 analysts. SmartEstimates give greater weighting to forecasts from analysts who are more consistently accurate.

That compares to the year-earlier net profit of T$295.9 billion.

Revenue in the final three months of last year came in at T$625.5 billion ($20.10 billion), according to Reuters calculations from TSMC data released last week, compared with $19.93 billion in the year-earlier period, but that still beat both the company’s and market’s expectations.

Global demand for semiconductors began to weaken in the second half of 2022, but analysts say inventories at smartphone and computer makers are running down and restocking demand is expected to pick up.

Given that, much of Thursday’s focus will be on TSMC’s outlook for this year.

Fubon Securities analysts said that having previously expressed concern for TSMC’s first quarter outlook, they now believed Apple wafer demand remains “steady in the short term”.

“Although there will be seasonal slowdown in 1Q24, which is widely known by the market, we have not seen additional order cuts.”

KGI Securities analysts said they expected first quarter sales to outperform typical slow season seasonality and that for the full year it saw mid-20% top-line growth in U.S. dollar terms due to demand recovery and silicon content driven by 5G and high performance computing applications.

The AI boom has helped drive up the price of shares in Asia’s most valuable company, with TSMC’s Taipei-listed stock having surged 32% in 2023, compared with a 27% gain for the broader market.

TSMC is due to report at 0600 GMT on Thursday.

($1 = 31.4220 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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