Bits + chips
Highlights of the day: Bright outlook for TSMC

TSMC has reported strong sales and profits for 2020, and the world's top pure-play foundry house expects to post another record revenue for first-quarter 2021. Tight foundry supply is creating shortages in the IC supply chain, and Chinese handset vendors have stepped up efforts trying to secure supply of components to support their expansions in the domestic market at the expense ot Huawei, which has been hit hard by US sanctions.

Meanwhile, Samsung is mulling increasing NAND flash output in a bid to maintain its market leadership, and in supoport of such a bid the Koean vendor is likely to cut prices for NAND.

TSMC expects another record in 1Q21 revenue: TSMC expects to post revenues of between US$12.7 billion and US$13 billion in the first quarter of 2021, which is a 1.3% sequential increase at the midpoint. Gross margin and operating margin for the quarter are estimated at 50.5-52.5% and 39.5-41.5%, respectively.

China smartphone vendors step up chips, components procurement: Chinese handset vendors Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi (OVX) have stepped up their purchases of ICs and basic components for their smartphones as part of their efforts to expand presence in the China market in 2021, according to Taiwan-based IC distributors, which have seen their inventory levels drop as a result.

Samsung considers lowering NAND flash prices as early as 1Q21, sources say: Samsung Electronics may initiate price cuts on its NAND flash chips as early as the end of the first quarter of 2021, which may trigger a price war among major NAND flash chipmakers, according to industry sources.

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