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Taiwan TSMC Q4 profit rises 31.8 percent

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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world's top contract microchip maker, said Thursday fourth-quarter profit rose 31.8 percent year on year thanks to better-than-forecast demand.

Profits in the three months to December came in at Tw$41.57 billion ($1.43 billion), compared with Tw$31.58 billion the previous year, the company said in a statement.

"In the fourth quarter, demand for our products was higher than we expected three months ago, resulting in above-guidance revenue and profit margins," Chief Financial Officer Lora Ho said.

Revenues in the period rose 25.4 percent to Tw$131.3 billion from a year earlier, the statement added.

Revenues of hand-held device chips and other communication chips rose 23 percent year-on-year to account for 50 percent of sales in October-December, the statement said.

Full-year net profit hit a record Tw$166.2 billion, up 23.8 percent from the previous year while revenues rose 18.5 percent to Tw$506.2 billion.

The company said it expects sales in the first quarter of this year, the off-peak season of the industry, to fall slightly quarter-on-quarter.

"We now expect the supply chain inventory to decline only slightly in the first quarter, and our revenue will also decline only slightly in the first quarter from the previous quarter," Ho said.

The Taipei-based Commercial Times said this month TSMC will soon start making chips for Apple, with trial production of the A6X chip for the new iPad set for the first quarter.

The move is the latest in a string of efforts by Apple to switch mass manufacturing contracts away from South Korean tech giant Samsung, the paper said.

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