Chartered sees light at end of semiconductor tunnel

Despite recording fourth-quarter 2001 revenue 76 percent lower than for the year before, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., the world's third-largest silicon wafer foundry, believes that the semiconductor market is beginning to stabilize, according to a company statement issued Tuesday.

Fourth-quarter revenue, for the period ended Dec. 31 2001, reached US$76.1 million compared to the fourth-quarter 2000 figure of $318.7 million. For the full year, revenue of $462.7 million was 59.2 percent lower than for fiscal 2000's $1.13 billion.

Chartered posted a fourth-quarter loss of $127.2 million compared to a $77.4 million profit in the year-ago quarter. Loss for the year was $384 million compared to a profit of $244.8 million in fiscal 2000, according to the statement.

Chartered focuses strongly on providing semiconductors for communications systems, and this segment was hit disproportionately hard, the company said. Fourth-quarter capacity utilization was down at 25 percent, compared to 94 percent a year ago.

But Chartered Chief Executive Officer and President Barry Waite said that the fourth quarter had shown growing signs of stabilization in the industry, following three quarters of sharp fall-off. Waite said he expected 2002 to be a year of market recovery after 2001, which he described as the most challenging year in the history of the semiconductor industry.

Chartered ranks third in size behind the world's two biggest contract chip makers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp.

TSMC last week also said it expected a market recovery in 2002 after a difficult year in 2001 which saw its revenue and profit slashed.

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