TSMC fabs down to 50% capacity

Will it post a loss this quarter? Looks like it

TSMC's fabs are running at half capacity this quarter, company chairman Morris Chang has let slip in an interview with Forbes due to be published on 30 April.

As a measure of how tough business is in the chip industry, fab utilisation is a good barometer. If much more than half of a company's fab capacity is left idle, it's likely to start losing money, according to industry wisdom.

Chang doesn't appear to think the situation will get that bad, however. Q2 will mark the bottom of the trough the company finds itself in, he said in the interview, according to Taiwan's Commercial Times.

The recovery will come in the second half of the year, when it's estimated that the company will get up to - on average - 85 per cent of full capacity.

In the meantime, analysts expect TSMC to make a loss this quarter, CT reports. TSMC's Q1 sales were down 26.6 per cent on the previous quarter. During Q1 fab utilisation fell to 70 per cent of full capacity, so a further fall, to 50 per cent or below, is a sign sales are still sinking. Glug, glug, glug... ®