In April, 2009 Chartered Semiconductor noted that demand would bounce back in the second quarter, pushing fab utilization rates into 58% range. At that time the company cited increasing demand for leading-edge devices as the catalyst. In a new update, Chartered now expects utilization rates to be in the range of 61% +/- 2% on the back of growing demand from mature technology customers, rather than leading-edge.
“Compared to our expectation in April, we are seeing incremental improvement in our business, mainly coming from our mature technologies,” noted George Thomas, Senior Vice President & CFO of Chartered Semiconductor. “Therefore, we are now revising our revenue guidance upward. Based on the mid-point of our revised guidance for revenues including our share of SMP revenues, wafer shipments are now expected to increase approximately 60 percent compared to first quarter of 2009. In line with higher revenues, we expect net loss to improve approximately $10 million compared to our previous guidance,”
Foundry rivals, UMC and TSMC have both projected rising utilization rates as demand returns. However, there is concern from market watchers that current demand is coming from restocking as inventories were burnt-through since September, 2008, rather than from a real demand driven recovery. This could translate into a recovery through Q309 and a fall in foundry utilization rates in Q409.
It would also seem that Chartered is not experiencing a stronger recovery than its rivals, given that its utilization rates are approximately 10-15% below those guided by UMC and TSMC for Q2.