While we’ve heard tales of gloom and despair from other Apple suppliers, leading analysts and media alike to suggest that the iPhone market might be contracting for the first time ever, it’s rather a different story with key Apple chipmaker TSMC. Focus Taiwan reports that its 2015 earnings were the highest in its 29-year history.
The company posted NT$306.57 billion (US$9.15 billion) in net profit for 2015, a 16.2 percent annual increase. TSMC’s 2015 earnings per share was NT$11.82, compared with NT$10.18 the previous year, and its consolidated sales rose 10.6 percent to NT$843.497 billion, it said.
Profits and earnings per share were also record-breaking …
For the final quarter of the year – the one leading to all the ‘peak iPhone’ speculation – its operating profit was toward the top end of its guidance, at 38.3% versus forecasts of 36.5-38.5%.
The news isn’t entirely reassuring, however. While its overall revenue grew, chip revenue from consumer electronics devices – the category that includes the iPhone – fell by 5%.
As ever, Apple’s mix of suppliers means that the performance of any one of them is, as Tim Cook has remarked, a poor proxy for performance of the iPhone. But this one is at least more encouraging that reductions of up to 30% we’ve been hearing about elsewhere.
KPMG suggested towards the end of last year that TSMC will be the sole manufacturer of the A10 chip for the iPhone 7, as well as the A9 chip (or A8?) for the 4-inch iPhone variously labelled the 5e, 6c and 7c. If so, this will be at the expense of Samsung.
We’ll get a far more reliable guide to iPhone performance on January 26, when Apple not only reports its earnings for the holiday quarter but also provides revenue guidance for the current quarter.