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TSMC’s awkward signalling opens up chip limbo

Is the chip market bottoming out? Yes and no, it seems. The $480 billion Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (2330.TW) on Thursday warned its 2023 sales are likely to fall 10%, worse than the low-to-mid single digit decrease it forecast three months ago. On the other hand, executives struck an upbeat tone on artificial intelligence, and noted the company is adding capacity on that front. Investors don’t know which way to look.

Chief Executive C.C. Wei blamed weaker-than-expected macroeconomic conditions, in particular, China’s disappointing recovery as well as high inflation and interest rates. TSMC’s lower full-year revenue guidance now casts doubt on a much-anticipated year-end or early-2024 rebound in demand for electronics that would reverse the industry supply glut. After surging some 30% since the start of the year, TSMC shares fell more than 3% on Friday.

At the same time, demand for high-end AI chips is booming. TSMC expects those niche sales, which currently account for just 6% of its total top line, to grow nearly 50% annually over the next five years. Even so, investors have no clearer insight into how fast global demand will pick up, nor how the AI frenzy will evolve. TSMC’s scrambled messaging is adding to the noise. Reuters

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