[News] Recovery in Foundry Mature Node May Be Delayed Until Next Year

2023-09-11 Semiconductors editor

According to the news from ChinaTimes, the semiconductor market is experiencing a slowdown, with Taiwan’s three major mature process wafer foundries UMC, VIS, and PSMC all reporting reduced revenues in August. VIS and UMC both posted lower revenues compared to the previous month, while PSMC managed a slight 1.2% monthly increase in August. However, this increase still falls within this year’s relatively low range. Industry experts anticipate that the semiconductor industry will maintain a subdued market outlook in the latter half of this year, with a potential recovery likely delayed until the first half of the next year.

The semiconductor industry began its correction in the second half of last year. Initially, there was optimism for inventory adjustments to conclude within four quarters by the end of this year’s second quarter, anticipating a demand rebound in the latter half of the year. However, since the second quarter, semiconductor manufacturers have grown pessimistic due to slower downstream inventory depletion and weak end-user demand. This is reflected in third-quarter revenues for mature process wafer foundries, which are expected to remain flat or slightly decline based on August revenues. A robust recovery in the fourth quarter is unlikely, suggesting that industry-wide recovery is likely postponed until the first half of next year.

UMC saw consecutive monthly revenue growth from February to July. However, following five consecutive increases, the company experienced a slight decrease in revenue in August. TSMC previously stated in a conference that the current market recovery falls short of expectations, with an unclear outlook for wafer demand. It anticipates a 3~4% quarter-on-quarter decrease in wafer shipments in the third quarter, which aligns with the market’s expectations for a slight decline in August revenue.

UMC forecasts a 3~4% quarter-on-quarter decrease in wafer shipments in the third quarter, a 2% quarter-on-quarter increase in the average wafer price in USD, a low single-digit percentage decrease in the average gross margin, and an approximate 65% capacity utilization rate. Overall, industry insiders expect TSMC to face slight downward pressure on third-quarter revenue.

VIS reported July revenue reaching NT$3.596 billion, marking a new high for the first seven months of the year. However, its August revenue showed a decline, with a 2.23% month-on-month decrease to NT$3.516 billion. This is significantly different from the typical revenue growth momentum observed during the third-quarter peak season in previous years. Cumulative revenue for the first eight months of this year also decreased by 34.54% compared to the same period last year.

VIS anticipates a 4~6% quarter-on-quarter increase in wafer shipments in the third quarter, with a capacity utilization rate similar to that of the second quarter, around 60%. The average selling price (ASP) is expected to remain stable. However, due to increased production costs and depreciation expenses, the gross margin is estimated to decline to 25~27% in the third quarter, putting more pressure on profitability compared to revenue.

As for PSMC, although its August revenue saw a slight 1.2% month-on-month increase, the company has maintained around NTD 3.4 billion in monthly revenue from June to August, which is considered a low level compared to the second quarter when monthly revenue was approximately NTD 3.8 billion. The third quarter is expected to continue to exert downward pressure on revenue compared to the previous quarter. The company has also previously stated that it does not rule out the possibility of a quarterly loss in its core business during the third quarter.