TSMC reports 32 percent profit jump in 4Q of 2012

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, reported a 32 percent jump in profits in the final quarter last year, benefiting from increasing global sales of smartphones and tablet computers.

The company said in a statement Thursday that profits amounted to NT$41.6 billion ($1.4 billion) on revenue of NT$131 billion during the October-December period.

It said the company shipped more application processors and other chips for use in mobile devices. This more than made up for stagnant chip sales in computer and consumer electronics goods.

TSMC said it expects revenue to drop slightly in the first quarter this year. It grew 25 percent year-on-year last quarter.

But Chairman and CEO Morris Chang said revenue growth for the whole year of 2013 could exceed 7 percent because wafer production using the cutting-edge 28 nanometer technology is set to grow and account for up to 30 percent of overall production, up from last year’s 12 percent.

TSMC is planning a record $9 billion of capital investment in 2013 to beat off competition, partly from South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

“We are ready to fight … every new competitor,” Chang said.

He did not address news reports that TSMC has been working with Apple Inc. to supply the Cupertino, Calif.-based company with the A6X processor to power the next generation of iPhones and iPads.

Samsung is both Apple’s main competitor in smartphones and tablet computers, as well as its principal supplier of processors. This has triggered speculation that Apple may be looking for a new processor source.

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