TSMC, UMC hint at increasing 2002 capex

Taiwan – The world’s two largest foundries – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics Corp. – said increasing chip demand may lead them to expand capex plans for 2002.

TSMC said it was moving away from a January forecast that 2002 capex would be “significantly less” — about 25% less — than the US$2.2 billion it invested in 2001.

“Now I think we will have to take the `significant’ away,” from the previous guidance, TSMC chief financial officer Harvey Chang told a technology conference hosted by Merrill Lynch.

“I am not prepared to give you a number yet, but certainly it is a very good indication that we are looking very closely at capital expenditure numbers because of the change in demand,” Chang said, according to Reuters.

Chang said TSMC was confident of reaching first-quarter revenue forecasts of five to 10 percent sequential growth, a pace which looked likely to accelerate in the April-June period.

“At this point, we can comfortably say that we can reach that target and even more stronger momentum will carry us into the second quarter,” he said. “This is not a single segment, this is across the board.”

UMC’s CEO of foundry operations, Peter Chang, said business showed signs of life recently particularly in the consumer electronics and wireless communications segments.

While Chang said UMC was currently keeping its 2002 capex at US$800 million, it could spend the money faster than previously scheduled.

“Right now UMC’s strategy is to maintain our forecast for capital expediture,” Reuters quoted Chang as saying, “but we might pull in some of the equipment demand in recent months.”

Chang said UMC’s capacity utilization rate would continue to rise after reaching 55 to 60% in the first quarter, up from less than 40% last year.

“Second quarter, we would say it’s definitely above 70 percent,” Chang told the same conference.

Commenting on the third quarter, he said, “With today’s situation, I hate to forecast. But it will be better than the second quarter.”


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