TSMC has been forced to update their first quarter guidance following the assessment of all the wafers affected by what they have labelled as a ‘problematic’ batch of photoresist material.

It has been reported that one of TSMC’ chemical suppliers had inadvertently created a foreign polymer in the photoresist as a specific component had been abnormally treated. This created an undesirable effect on 12/16-nanometer wafers at Fab 14B. The foreign polymer was discovered later when the wafers deviated from their normal yield.

TSMC have announced that to ensure the quality of the wafers delivered to customers, they will be scrapping a higher number of wafers than previously estimated.

TSMC expects the financial impact from the photoresist incident to be as follows:

  • This incident is expected to reduce Q1 revenue by about US$550 million, gross margin by 2.6 percentage points, operating margin by 3.2 percentage points, and EPS by NT$0.42.
  • The wafers scrapped in Q1 will be made up in Q2. This will contribute about US$550 million to Q2 revenue, increase gross margin by 1.5 percentage points, operating margin by 2.1 percentage points, and EPS by NT$0.34.
  • For full year 2019, this incident is forecast to reduce gross margin by 0.2 percentage point, operating margin by 0.2 percentage point, and EPS by NT$0.08.

To try and recoup some of their losses from the scrapped product, TSMC will attempt to drive demand and will be taking steps to pull production from the second quarter. They predict that this will result in about US$230 million of additional revenue in Q1.

Including the above factors, the company now expects Q1 revenue to be between US$7 billion to US$7.1 billion, Q1 gross profit margin to be between 41% and 43%, and Q1 operating profit margin to be between 29% and 31%.

TSMC Photoresist