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Global top 10 foundries business rose by 6% in Q3

Monday, December 19, 2022

The total revenue of the global top 10 foundries rose by 6% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to $35.21 billion for the third quarter (3Q 2022) as the release of the new iPhone series during the second half of the year generated significant stock-up activities across Apple’s supply chain, according to TrendForce.

However, the global economy shows weak performances, and factors such as China’s policy on containing COVID-19 outbreaks and high inflation continue to impact consumer confidence. As a result, peak-season demand in the second half of the year has been underwhelming, and inventory consumption is proceeding slower than anticipated.

This situation has led to substantial downward corrections to foundry orders as well. For 4Q 2022, TrendForce forecasts that the total revenue of the global top 10 foundries will register a QoQ decline, thereby terminating the boom of the past two years—when there was an uninterrupted trend of QoQ revenue growth.

iPhone-related orders driving TSMC market gains

Regarding individual foundries’ performances in 3Q 2022, the group of the top five was led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC), followed by Samsung, United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), GlobalFoundries, and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). Their collective global market share (in revenue terms) came to 89.6%.

Most foundries were directly impacted by clients slowing down their stock-up activities or significantly correcting down their orders. Only TSMC was able to make a notable gain due to Apple’s strong stock-up demand for the SoCs deployed in this year’s new iPhone models. TSMC saw its revenue rise by 11.1% QoQ to $20.16 billion, and the corresponding market share expanded to 56.1%. The growth was mainly attributed to the =7nm nodes, whose share in the foundry’s revenue had kept climbing and reached 54% in the third quarter.

Conversely, Samsung actually experienced a slight QoQ drop of 0.1% in foundry revenue even though it had also benefited from the component demand related to the new iPhone series. Partially impacted by the weakening of the Korean won, Samsung’s market share fell to 15.5%.

Turning to UMC, its revenue went up by 1.3% QoQ to around $2.48 billion for 3Q 2022. UMC’s performance was bolstered by the strengthening of the US dollar and the newly added 28nm production capacity that outputs higher-priced wafers.

GlobalFoundries posted a QoQ rise of 4.1% in revenue to around $2.07 billion. The growth was attributed to a QoQ increase in wafer shipments as well as further optimization in wafer ASP and product mix. Furthermore, GlobalFoundries has been maintaining its capacity utilization rate above 90%.

Taking the last spot in the group of the top five, SMIC posted a slight QoQ increase of 0.2% in revenue to around $1.91 billion. SMIC has a product mix that is skewed towards consumer semiconductor components, so it saw smaller QoQ increases as well as QoQ declines in revenue performances across different applications and product categories as its clients had been focusing on inventory reduction. This was especially noticeable for chips used in smartphones and several kinds of consumer electronics. Nevertheless, SMIC’s revenue kept climbing because the optimization of its wafer ASP offset the issue with its product mix and the slide in its wafer shipments.

The US government further expanded its export controls against China on October 7; and this development has definitely affected SMIC as its clients have become more hesitant in ramping up wafer inputs. However, in the aspect of capital expenditure, SMIC is taking the opposite approach compared with most other foundries that have scaled back because of the changes in the market environment and the issue with the lead time for equipment orders. Against headwinds, SMIC has raised its capital expenditure for 2022 by 32% to $6.6 billion. SMIC wants to speed up new equipment purchases for its three new fabs located in Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai in order to minimize the risks associated with the US export controls. Hence, it has raised capital expenditure in order to make advance payments on the new equipment that is set for deployment in 2023.

Among the foundries placed from sixth to 10th in the 3Q 2022 revenue ranking, HuaHong Group and Tower posted a QoQ revenue increase, whereas PSMC, VIS, and Nexchip recorded a QoQ drop. Nexchip experienced the largest decline among the top 10 mainly because of an imbalance between demand and production capacity. Specifically, driver IC suppliers including Novatek, Chipone, and Ilitek had made downward corrections to their wafer input due to mounting inventory pressure.

Meanwhile, Nexchip continued with its capacity expansion. As a result, Nexchip’s revenue fell by 22.5% QoQ to $371 million for 3Q 2022. Its capacity utilization rate also slid to 80~85%.

In the consumer electronics market, inventory consumption has been slower than expected, so a turnaround will unlikely happen in short term. With the slump continuing, foundry orders for chips used in consumer electronics will undergo larger downward corrections. This, in turn, will affect foundries’ wafer shipments and capacity utilization rates.

For 4Q 2022, TrendForce believes that the majority of the global top 10 foundries will post either a smaller growth or a drop for their revenue results. This wave of order corrections will eventually affect the industry leader TSMC as well. While TSMC could see a larger-than-anticipated drop in 7/6nm orders, its revenue generation will still be sustained by 5/4nm orders. Even though TSMC’s revenue for 4Q 2022 will not register a QoQ decline, it will likely to be mostly flat compared with 3Q 2022.

Regarding foundries’ capacity utilization in 4Q 2022, UMC is still going to focus on adjusting its product mix so as to allocate more production capacity to chips used in automotive electronics and industrial equipment. However, its capacity utilization rate will still drop by 10 percentage points because the declining orders for chips used in consumer electronics will result in a greater amount of idled production capacity.

GlobalFoundries will also not be able to maintain its capacity utilization rate as it has not secured enough long-term agreements for 8-inch wafer foundry.

Turning to HuaHong, its subsidiary HLMC will begin to see a slide in the capacity utilization rate of its 55nm node that manufactures the MCUs, Wi-Fi chips, and CMOS image sensors used in consumer electronics.

Likewise, PSMC’s capacity utilization rates for 8- and 12-inch wafer foundry will retreat to 60~65% and 70~75% respectively because of the ongoing order corrections related to CMOS image sensors, DDIs, and other logic chips.

VIS will see its capacity utilization rate fall to around 70% as well.

Lastly, Nexchip is at risk of suffering downward corrections to incoming orders for driver ICs and other chips used in consumer electronics (for example, PMICs and CMOS image sensors). At the same time, the foundry is constrained from adjusting its product mix because its other process technologies have yet to reach the mass production standard. Due to these factors, Nexchip’s capacity utilization rate will shrink to around 50~55%.

By: DocMemory
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