United Microelectronics' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

United Microelectronics Corporation ( UMC)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 8, 2012 8:00 am ET

Executives

Bowen Huang - Head of IR

Shih-Wei Sun - CEO

Chitung Liu - CFO

Analysts

Randy Abrams - Credit Suisse

Dan Heyler - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Steven Pelayo - HSBC

Szeho Ng - BNP

Pon Lu Lu - Goldman Sachs

Satya Kumar - Credit Suisse

Presentation

Operator

Welcome everyone to UMC's 2011 Q4 earnings conference call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to introduce Mr. Bowen Huang, Head of Investor Relations at UMC. Mr. Huang, you may begin.

Bowen Huang

Thank you. And welcome to UMC's conference call for the fourth quarter of 2011. With me today is the CEO of UMC, Dr. Shih-Wei Sun; and the CFO, Mr. Chitung Liu.

During this conference, we may make forward-looking statements based on management's current expectation and beliefs. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual result to differ materially, including risk that may be beyond the company's control. For these risks, please refer to UMC's filing with the SEC in the U.S. and to the ROC Securities Authorities.

I'd now like to introduce UMC's CFO, Mr. Chitung Liu, to explain UMC's Q4 2011 and full year 2011 business results.

Chitung Liu

Thank you, Bowen. For the fourth quarter of 2011, revenue was NT$24.43 billion, a 10.5% quarter-over-quarter decrease from NT$25.19 billion in third quarter 2011 and 22% year-over-year decrease from NT$31.32 billion in 4Q, 2010. Gross margin was 18.6%, operating margin was 6.4%, net income was NT$1.18 billion and earnings per ordinary share were NT$0.09.

In 2011 revenue for the full year was NT$105.88 billion with NT$10.14 billion operating income, NT$10.81 billion net income and NT$0.86 earnings per share. Above is a short summary of UMC's results of Q4, 2011 and full year 2011. More details are available in the report, which has been posted on our website.

I would now turn the call over to Dr. Sun.

Shih-Wei Sun

Thanks, Chitung. Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. In Q4, 2011, revenue was in line with UMC's guidance with 10% decrease in quarterly shipments, contributing to revenue decline. We shipped 915,000 8-inch equivalent wafers, with ASP increasing 5% in NT dollars. Overall utilization was 68%. Revenue from 40-nanometer exceeded 10% for December monthly sales, brining revenue contribution from this note to 8% for the fourth quarter.

Since the first quarter of the year is traditionally slow, UMC's quarterly revenue will decrease slightly from the previous quarter. However, we expect to maintain operating profitability through continuous cost reduction and efficiency enhancement measures. During the slow period, our operating profitability has gained resilience and stability, as a result of successful efforts to improve operating structure and diversify risk.

From a market standpoint, we have observed several signs that the industry cycle is reaching the bottom and believe that the multi-quarter inventory correction will end soon. However, due to several remaining uncertainties, recovery momentum will be determined by macroeconomic conditions and the strength of end demand.

UMC is optimistic about the demand for advanced mobile communication and computing chips. To capitalize on this opportunity, we will expand our comprehensive 28-nanometer and 40-nanometer foundry solutions, cooperate with top-tier customers to gain more flagship products, and build sufficient capacity.

Our 2012 CapEx budget of US$2 billion will help fulfill this commitment. However, we will not blindly add capacity. Instead, our investment plan is based on progressive stages of both advanced technology readiness and customer capacity requirements.

Due to promising 28-nanometer engagements and strong demand, we believe UMC will be well rewarded when 28-nanometer mass production begins. As for 2.5D silicon interposer solution, we have successfully taped out 2.5D interposer for 28-nanometer and 40-nanometer customers.

We have also developed an open platform with back-end OSAT partners to extend our foundry services. For 2012, UMC will put forth great effort to strengthen long-term partnerships with customers, provide competitive advanced technology and commit sufficient capacity to secure the next opportunity for growth.

Now let me provide you with the guidance for the first quarter of 2012. Wafer shipments were increased marginally. Wafer ASP in US dollars were decrease approximately 5%.

Operating margin will be in the low single-digit percentage range. Capacity utilization will be in the high 60% range. The consumer and the computer segments were outpaced our communication segment. 2012 CapEx budget is approximately US$ 2 billion.

That concludes my comments. We are now ready for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) You have a question from the line of Randy Abrams from Credit Suisse.

Randy Abrams - Credit Suisse

I wanted to ask a question on the CapEx, you noted in the afternoon that most of the CapEx was to convert capacity to 28-nanometer from ordered geometries. Could you talk about how much 28-nanometer business of capacity you can support with that investment?

Shih-Wei Sun

Let me try to make the correction, not most of all capacity are used for conversion. The new buys we are dominating is still the majority involved CapEx. But we allocate the certain percentage of the $2 billion for capacity upgrade. That's the first.

Secondly, I mentioned that we will provide enough capacity, actually more capacity in supporting our 5% revenue targets towards the end of the year. So I cannot share with you the exact passing number at this moment.

Randy Abrams - Credit Suisse

And if you could talk about the capital intensity just to add wafer capacity, how it's changing from 40-nanometer to 28-nanometer. And if your expectation after this initial investment, if the cost may come down say for the next tranche of 28-nanometer capacity.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com