(Bloomberg) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. recorded its first quarterly revenue miss in two years, signaling the global decline in electronics demand is starting to catch up with the chip giant.
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The shortfall suggests that even TSMC, with its technology and scale advantages, can’t escape a global slowdown in spending by consumers affected by rising interest rates and accelerating inflation. The world’s biggest contract manufacturer of chips last year reduced its capital spending plans by about 10% to $36 billion and some analysts have warned it may further delay expenditure on expansion in 2023.
TSMC, which is the exclusive supplier of Apple Inc.’s Silicon chips for iPhones and Macs, may also have been affected by problems at the US tech giant’s assembly operations in China. Apple was forced to trim output estimates after Covid-related chaos at a plant in Zhengzhou exposed vulnerabilities in the company’s supply chain.
Fourth-quarter revenue at TSMC rose 43% to NT$625.5 billion ($20.6 billion), according to Bloomberg calculations based on monthly numbers reported by TSMC. That missed the NT$636 billion predicted by analysts on average. TSMC said its December sales advanced 24% to NT$192.6 billion.
Shares of Hsinchu-based TSMC, Taiwan’s most valuable company, fell 27% last year — after doubling during the pandemic — and are up about 8% this year. The global economic slowdown has diminished consumer demand for many products that TSMC chips go into, but the company and its customers still expect the long-term trend in electronics demand to keep going up.
Last month, TSMC kicked off mass production of next generation chips and increased its investment in the US state of Arizona to $40 billion.
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TSMC is under pressure to diversify the geographic distribution of its advanced chipmaking and is working with governments like the US and Japan on developing a more global footprint. Global policy makers and customers are increasingly leery of their technological reliance on an island Beijing has threatened to invade and have pushed TSMC to shift some production abroad.
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