TSMC presses capex accelerator with $5 billion hike

October 17, 2019 //By Peter Clarke
TSMC presses capex accelerator pedal with $5 billion hike
Leading foundry TSMC has raised its capital expenditure budget significantly for 2019 – potentially by as much as $5 billion – as it posted a strong outlook for fourth quarter revenue that should allow the company to achieve growth in 2019.

TSMC advised that it now expects its 2019 capital expenditure budget to be between US$14 billion and US$15 billion. At the beginning of this year the foundry said it expected its capital budget to be between US$10 billion and US$11 billion.

This is clearly an attempt to capitalize on its success at 7nm and leave other chipmakers – essentially Samsung and Intel – behind. The spending will be used to cement TSMC's leading position in advanced semiconductor manufacturing at 7nm and accelerate its introduction of 5nm and subsequent process nodes.

But such nodes rely on highly expensive extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, hence the big hike in capex. ASML Holdings NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) is the monopoly supplier of EUV lithography equipment so much of that budget will be coming to Europe.

But the spending is also a response to raised spending by consumer giant Samsung which was expected to spend as much as $18 billion on semiconductor capex in 2019 (see Samsung capex puts pressure on Intel, TSMC).

In its third quarter earnings statement TSMC said that 4Q19 revenue is expected to be between $10.2 billion and $10.3 billion, which would see the company achieving annual revenue of about $34.5 billion at the mid-point of the guidance.

TSMC announced a net income of NT$101.07 billion (about $3.3 billion, according to contemporary conversion rates) on revenue of NT$293.05 billion (about $9.56 billion) in the 3Q19. TSMC list the 3Q revenue as being equivalent to $9.4 billion, an increase of 10.7 percent over the previous year's figure and an increase of 21.3 percent from the previous quarter.

Next: So many 7nm sales


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