Taipei, April 15 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, said on Thursday that the company has raised its capital expenditure to US$30 billion and upgraded its sales growth guidance to 20 percent for 2021.
At an investor conference, TSMC Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Wendell Huang said the new capex plan, which was revised based on strong global demand over the next few years for high-end technology processes, such as high performance computing (HPC) devices and 5G applications, will push spending to an historical high for the company.
The new capex plan replaced the previous plan announced in mid-January which estimated the company would spend US$25 billion to US$28 billion this year.
Huang said TSMC will assign 80 percent of the planned capex to the development of the advanced 3 nanometer and 5nm processes, 10 percent to high-end integrated circuit packaging and testing services and photomasking technologies, and the remaining 10 percent to specialty processes.
As for sales, Huang said TSMC expects to post growth of 20 percent in 2021, which represents an upgrade from the previous forecast of 15 percent
TSMC's 20 percent growth beats the 12 percent increase in sales anticipated for the global semiconductor industry, excluding the memory chip segment, and also surpasses the expected 16 percent sales increase for the global pure wafer foundry business.
Huang said TSMC expects to generate US$12.9 billion to US$13.2 billion in consolidated sales in the second quarter, the median number of the forecast representing a 1 percent increase from the fourth quarter, despite slow season effects.
Solid demand for HPC devices in the second quarter is expected to offset the slow season effects suffered by the smartphone market, he added..
However, Huang said TSMC's gross margin -- the difference between revenue and cost of goods sold -- for the second quarter will range from 49.5 percent to 51.5 percent, down from 52.4 percent in the first quarter, as the 5nm process will account for a higher proportion of total sales, dragging down the profit margin.
In the second quarter, the company' operating margin -- the difference between sales, cost of goods sold and operating expenses -- is expected to be between 38.5 percent and 40.5 percent, compared with 41.5 percent in the first quarter, Huang said.
TSMC Chief Executive Officer C.C. Wei said the company expects 10-15 percent compound annual growth in sales from 2020-2025, adding that it also plans to invest US$100 billion over the next three years to expand production capacity and upgrade technologies to remain ahead of its peers.
Before the investor conference, TSMC announced it posted first quarter net profit of NT$139.69 billion (US$4.90 billion), down 2.2 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, with earnings per share at NT$5.39, compared with NT$5.51 percent a quarter earlier.
Despite the quarter-on-quarter decline, TSMC's first quarter net profit was still the second highest quarter in the company's history.