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Chipmaker TSMC Says Profit Doubles

World's largest contract chipmaker said fourth quarter profit more than doubled after a rebound in global demand for computers pushed sales up 43 percent.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest contract chipmaker, said Thursday its fourth quarter profit more than doubled after a rebound in global demand for computers.

Net income for October-December surged 162 percent from a year earlier to 32.67 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1 billion) on revenue of NT$92 billion ($2.9 billion), TSMC said.

Fourth quarter sales jumped 43 percent from a year earlier, the company said, and it forecast a double-digit expansion in sales this year as the global economy recovers.

Weak demand early in 2009 dragged down full-year sales 11.2 percent from 2008 to NT$295.7 billion, the company said.

Sales improved with "computer-related applications growing strongly" amid the emerging global recovery, despite a seasonal decline in demand for consumer-related applications, the company said.

TSMC's chips are used in devices ranging from mobile phones to computers. Demand plunged following the 2008 onset of the global crisis but began to recover during the second quarter of last year.

Chairman Morris Chang was upbeat about 2010 at an investor conference, forecasting a 14 percent increase in global computer sales and a 12 percent increase in handset sales during the year.

The company forecast an 18 percent growth in the global semiconductor market in 2010, Chang said. The market contracted about 9 percent in 2009.

Foundry, or contract manufacturing, would outperform the overall chip market, with an expected 29 percent growth in 2010, Chang said.

The overall foundry industry contracted 17 percent in 2009, he said.

The company is expected to run at full capacity throughout 2010, while preparing to begin mass production using the cutting-edge 28-nanometer process technology in the first half of 2011, he said.

The advanced process enables more features to be integrated into smaller chips. TSMC wafer productions now involve mainly 0.13-micron, 40- and 65-nanometer technologies.

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