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Asian foundries bullish on 2011

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SMIC? TSMC? foundry?

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) plans to become a $5 billion company, while TSMC sticks to its sales growth target of 20 percent for 2011 despite the possible consequences of Japan's March 11 earthquake.

According to reports in the media, SMIC is planning to expand and become a $5 billion company. SMIC's Gary Tseng, chief financial officer, clarified this claim in a statement saying: "Based on our current five year business expansion plan to become a $5 billion foundry, SMIC would need to spend approximately $12 billion to increase its manufacturing capacity during the next several years."

Tseng elaborated that "The majority of such funding would come from internally generated cash. The remaining funds may come from long term bank loans, and/or outside equity investment. Please note that this is just a plan based on the company's position today, and the actual amount to be spent on capital expansion may vary based, among other things, on market conditions, the company's business plans and customer needs."

After a tumultuous period, Chinese foundry provider SMIC is back on track according to the company's top executive. The company recently achieved its first profitable year in 2010, at both the operational and net income levels, after 5 years of losses, according to its financial results announcement for the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Morris Chang, chairman and CEO of foundry chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC) has said its sales growth target of 20 percent for 2011 will not be changed by the consequences of the Japan earthquake, according to a Reuters report.

The business impacts of the quake could include a slowdown in the second and third quarters and, if chipmaking equipment companies are affected, an effect on TSMC's growth in 2012, the report referenced Chang as saying.

TSMC has set its sales growth target at 20 percent in terms of U.S. dollar, the report said. This is considerably higher than most forecasters' expectations for the semiconductor industry overall, which are set at between about 5 percent and 10 percent.

"Even if there is a slowdown, it will only affect one or two quarters. Demand is still there, for example for tablet PCs and smartphones; the shortage is only temporary. Once supply recovers it will solve the earlier shortage," the report quoted Chang as saying to reporters after a conference.

Chang also said that TSMC has sufficient inventory and second sources of materials outside Japan, with the exception of some equipment it sources from Tokyo Electron. "If supply cannot be restored in the short term, it will affect the growth of our production capability for next year," the reported quoted Chang saying.

One source of concern, although apparently not to TSMC's Chang, is raw silicon wafers. Japan's Shin-Etsu and Sumco are thought to produce 60 percent of the global supply and Shin-Etsu suspended operations at its Shirakawa plant over the last weekend. Elsewhere many companies in in Japan are suspending operations at plants, even if they are in sound condition, to save electricity.

- Mark LaPedus, Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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