TSMC's customers are Apple, Qualcomm and Huawei and so if it rains on it, it is a sign that they and their suppliers such as Intel, Nvidia and ASML are also going to get wet.
Shares of European chipmakers tumbled on Thursday after TSMC’s revenue guidance, with Siltronic falling six percent and STMicroelectronics down three percent.
Investors are already worried about a global tech slowdown after warnings from Samsung and Apple, which earlier this month cut its quarterly sales forecast due to weak iPhone demand in China.
TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said a sudden drop in sales of high-end smartphones had caused an inventory build-up, and weak demand will continue to weigh on it until new smartphone launches in the second half.
Chairman Mark Liu said:“The inventory in the supply chain is quite a lot” which may lead to a drop in the first half of 2019 for the smartphone business,
It forecast first-quarter revenue of $7.3 billion to $7.4 billion. The nearly 14 percent drop would be the steepest decline since the March 2009 quarter, according to Refinitiv data, when revenue tumbled 54 percent in Taiwan dollar terms.
TSMC expects revenue growth to more than halve to 1-3 percent from last year’s 6.5 percent. It announced plans to slash investment.
Chief Financial Officer Lora Ho said:“Due to the macroeconomic outlook in 2019, we are tightening this year’s capital spending by several hundred million dollars to a level of between $10-$11 billion,”
TSMC posted a 0.7 percent rise in fourth quarter net profit to $3.24 billion, roughly in line with analysts’ estimates.
Revenue rose two percent to $9.40 billion in the December quarter, also in line with the analysts’ estimates.
Shares of TSMC, which has a market value of about $185 billion and trails just Samsung and Intel by that measure among chip- and chip-equipment makers closed up 1.4 percent in Taipei before the earnings announcement.