TSMC says skilled worker shortage delays start of Arizona chip production

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Shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co slumped more than 3% Friday after the world’s largest contract chipmaker flagged a 10% drop in 2023 sales and said production due to start next year at its first plant in Arizona would be delayed.

On Thursday, TSMC

(TSM) reported a 23% fall in second-quarter net profit — its first yearon-year drop in quarterly profit since 2019 — as global economic woes take a toll on demand for chips used in everything from cars to cellphones.

“While the company’s declining revenue and profit were disappointing, its long-term growth prospects remain encouraging,” said Brady Wang, associate director at Counterpoint Research. “Despite facing macroeconomic headwinds, TSMC’s long-term outlook remains robust, supported by mega trends like 5G and high-performance computing.”

As TSMC steps up its global expansion, the company said production at its first plant in Arizona will be delayed until 2025 due to a shortage of specialist workers.

“While we are working to improve the situation, including sending experienced technicians from Taiwan to train the local skilled workers for a short period of time, we expect the production schedule of N4 process technology to be pushed out to 2025,” TSMC chairman Mark Liu said Thursday.

TSMC’s total investment in the US project amounts to $40 billion.

The company said its position as the largest manufacturer of artificial intelligence chips and high demand for AI have not offset broader end-market weakness as the global economy recovers more slowly than it had expected.

“The short-term frenzy about the AI demand definitely cannot extrapolate for the long term. Neither can we predict the near future — meaning next year — how the sudden demand will continue or flatten out,” Liu said.

Still, the company’s earnings of 181.8 billion Taiwan dollars ($5.85 billion) for the quarter ending in June beat forecasts.

“We see TSMC well-positioned for a strong growth outlook in 2024,” Goldman Sachs said in a research note. “We believe the US expansion delay is also well-expected by investors.”

Other analysts, too, were upbeat on TSMC, thanks in part to strong demand for AI, which currently accounts for around 6% of the company’s revenue.

“We expect a solid 2024-onward outlook on the back of its leading position in AI chip manufacturing,” Citi Research analysts said in a note.

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