Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) CEO CC Wei noted a flattening of its business in late 2023, with capex starting to level off and an expectation of healthy full-year sales growth driven by AI chip demand.  

On an earnings call, Wei noted the chipmaker expects revenue in 2024 to grow by 20 per cent to 25 per cent, ahead of the overall industry’s 10 per cent rate, as inventories return to normal levels.

Revenue in the current quarter is predicted to rise by 2.3 per to 6.8 per year-on-year to a range of $18 billion to $18.7 billion.

Wei said 2023 was a challenging year for the semiconductor industry, with continuing economic weakness and geopolitical uncertainties, “potentially further weighing on consumer sentiment and market demand”.

Capex in 2023 dropped to $30.4 billion from $36.3 billion in 2022, which CFO Wendell Huang stated was lower than an earlier guidance as it tightened spending due to near-term uncertainties. 

Its 2024 capex budget is set at between $28 billion and $32 billion, with Huang noting its long-term guidance is directly correlated to growth opportunities to support future customer demand.

The foundry utilisation rate will rise as business recovers, he said.

Net income in Q4 fell 19.3 per cent to TWD238.7 billion ($7.6 billion) and revenue was flat at TWD625.5 billion.

Sales of chips for smartphones increased 27 per cent, accounting for 43 per cent of total. The figure fell 8 per cent over the full year, comprising 38 per cent of its overall revenue.

Richard Windsor, founder of blog Radio Free Mobile, wrote the results signalled better times ahead for the semiconductor industry, but cautioned additional restrictions on imports to China and a bursting of the AI bubble could derail the early momentum.