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Apple chip supplier’s solid performance shows resilience in trade fight

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) projected current-quarter revenue ahead of estimates, as the Apple Inc supplier shrugs off a smartphone slump and US sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co to ride demand for cutting-edge chips.

[TAIPEI] Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) projected current-quarter revenue ahead of estimates, as the Apple Inc supplier shrugs off a smartphone slump and US sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co to ride demand for cutting-edge chips.

The world's largest contract chipmaker expects sales of US$9.1 billion to US$9.2 billion in the September quarter, according to an online presentation, ahead of average projections for about US$8.9 billion. The Taiwanese company earlier reported a fall in June-quarter net income to NT$66.8 billion (S$2.9 billion), surpassing the NT$65.7 billion estimated.

TSMC's solid outlook may allay fears of a persistent global chip downturn as Washington and Beijing clash. Its technological edge in chipmaking may help it grab an outsized portion of demand for advanced high-performance semiconductors, particularly as countries roll out ultra-fast fifth generation wireless networks.

Orders for crypto-mining gear are expected to help TSMC's third-quarter sales, according to Morgan Stanley, which recently lifted its target price on the stock by 9 per cent. The typical year-end ramp up of iPhone manufacturing and a new chip-product cycle from Advanced Micro Devices Inc could also buoy the top line.

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Market voices on:

"The guidance shows that management is confident on the recovery of demand in H2, possibly boosted by new orders from AMD," Bloomberg Intelligence Charles Shum said. "And, we expect the gross margin can return to 50 per cent" by the fourth quarter.

TSMC and its industry peers are grappling with a plateauing smartphone market, efforts by top customer Apple to move beyond hardware, and US tech-export curbs that have hammered No 2 customer Huawei. It previously reported a 4.5 per cent slide in first-half revenue - its worst January-to-June performance since 2011.

As the world's largest player in the business of made-to-order chips, TSMC is a barometer for the broader industry as well as Apple, which accounts for about a fifth of its revenue. Its shares stood largely unchanged before the announcement and have gained more than 12 per cent this year.

BLOOMBERG