Taiwan's TSMC Reports 42 Percent Sales Gain in 2010

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TSMC, the world's largest semiconductor foundry, reported a 42 percent increase in sales last year, the company said on Tuesday, as a global proliferation of new devices such as tablet PCs raised demand.

The Taiwan-based semiconductor giant said in a statement it had posted consolidated full-year sales of NT$419.54 billion (US$13.98 billion), including NT$34.87 billion last month.

Demand for chips in "new applications" such as smartphones, tablet PCs and Web-based media viewers gave crucial business to the likes of TSMC last year, said Yang Lee-chia, an analyst with SinoPac Securities in Taipei.

Last year's sales TSMC sales figures reflect a global demand for semiconductors in general, said acting company spokesperson Elizabeth Sun. That followed a dismal 2009, when fallout from the world financial crisis hurt business.

"Our Chairman Morris Chang had said 2010 would be a great year for growth, and he was right," Sun said. "2010 was a great year for semiconductors, and 2009 was a declining year. We don't need to explain. All the demand was completely wiped out then."

Much of TSMC's sales growth is due to the effect of a low comparison base from 2009, Yang said. Over that year, the 23-year-old firm reported consolidated sales of just NT$295.74 billion, down from NT$333.16 billion logged in all of 2008.

Still, TSMC's 2010 earnings beat forecasts by 1 percentage point, Sun said.

This year is likely to be just as strong for the semiconductor industry, up as much as 5 percent over 2010, analysts say.

TSMC, formally known as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., has also made a start in the lighting and solar energy sectors in addition to its core semiconductors.

Also in Taiwan's tech sector, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, the world's largest electronics contract maker, reported non-consolidated revenues of NT$2.31 trillion, up 62.83 percent, a company spokesman said. That growth was partly due to orders for Apple product components late in the year.

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