TSMC first-quarter profit expected to rise 5% on strong AI chip demand


A smartphone with a displayed TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the dominant producer of advanced chips used in artificial intelligence applications, is expected to report a 5% rise in first-quarter profit on Thursday thanks to strong demand.

The world's largest contract chipmaker, whose customers include Apple and Nvidia, has benefited from a surge towards AI that has helped it weather the tapering off of pandemic-led electronics demand and pushed TSMC's stock to a record high.

TSMC is set to report a net profit of T$217.2 billion ($6.71 billion) for the quarter ended March 31, according to an LSEG SmartEstimate drawn from 22 analysts. SmartEstimates give greater weighting to forecasts from analysts who are more consistently accurate.

That compares to the first-quarter net profit of T$206.9 billion last year.

TSMC last week reported a 16.5% rise in first-quarter revenue, beating market expectations and at the high end of the company's own guidance.

Eric Yao, a vice president at Taiwan's Eastspring Investments, which manages about T$90 billion of client assets in Taiwanese stocks, said the $6.6 billion in U.S. subsidies for TSMC's new Arizona plants augured well for its prospects of maintaining its lead in advanced process technologies.

"TSMC will likely continue to lead in that front, and Intel and Samsung will not have much chance to catch up," he said, referring to two rivals who want to challenge the company's dominance.

Intel this month disclosed deepening operating losses for its foundry business, a blow to the chipmaker as it tries to regain a technology lead it lost in recent years to TSMC, which also announced last week it would build a third fab in Arizona.

Fubon Securities analysts said they expected TSMC to revise up its outlook for AI demand for future years.

"TSMC previously indicated that AI could account for high-teens of its revenue by 2026, but based on our calculation, we think the target could be reached earlier in 2025."

The AI boom has helped drive up the price of shares in Asia's most valuable company, with TSMC's Taipei-listed stock having surged 36% so far this year to a historic high, compared with a 14% gain for the broader market.

TSMC is due to hold an earnings call at 0600 GMT on Thursday.

($1 = 32.3890 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Faith Hung; Editing by Jamie Freed)

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