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TSMC third-quarter sales surge to record amid jump in orders

The company’s business typically revs up in the months before Apple unveils new iPhones and the holiday season.
The company’s business typically revs up in the months before Apple unveils new iPhones and the holiday season. (REUTERS)

TSMC shares have surged more than 80% from their March lows amid signs that the company is bouncing back from the worst of the coronavirus-induced disruptions.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. reported a stronger-than-expected 22% rise in quarterly sales, buoyed by orders from its largest customers including Apple Inc.The world’s largest contract chipmaker saw revenue for the three months to September climb to a record NT$356.4 billion ($12.4 billion), up from NT$293 billion a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on monthly sales data disclosed by TSMC. The average forecast of analysts was for revenue of NT$337.2 billion.

TSMC in July raised its 2020 outlook, saying that revenue this year will grow by more than 20% in dollar terms. Sales for the first nine months of the year suggests that Apple’s main iPhone chipmaker is on track to meet its growth forecast as the Covid-19 pandemic fueled demand for home computing equipment.

The company’s business typically revs up in the months before Apple unveils new iPhones and the holiday season. It also likely received a boost during the quarter as its second-largest customer Huawei Technologies Co. raced to stockpile supplies before a U.S. ban on shipments to the Chinese telecom giant came into effect last month. Rival chipmaker Samsung Electronics Co. reported on Thursday earnings that beat analyst estimates after its mobile and chip businesses benefited from the curbs on Huawei.

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“Although TSMC can overcome the short-term hit of losing Huawei, the company would face a bigger problem if the U.S. government continuously limits its ability to work with Chinese companies, which make up a quarter of its clients today and will continue to keep growing,” said Dan Wang, technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics.

About two-thirds of TSMC’s 5-nanometer capacity has been taken up by Apple’s newest A14 processors in the run-up to the release of the new iPhones, Taipei-based Economic Daily News reported this week, citing unidentified industry sources. The handsets are expected to be unveiled next week.

By Shiyin Chen and Chris Horton

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