SAN JOSE, Calif. -- China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) posted another loss for the quarter.
The Chinese foundry vendor sees a rebound in orders right now, but some ponder a major question: Just how long can the company continue to lose money?
SMIC's revenue hit $146.5 million in the first quarter, down 46.2 percent from the previous period and down 59.6 percent from a year ago.
The foundry provider recorded a net loss of $178.4 million in the first quarter, compared to a net loss of $139.5 million in the previous period. In the like period a year ago, it lost $225.7 million.
It had a fab utilization rate of 34.9 percent in the quarter, compared to 67.7 percent in the previous period and 92.1 a year ago. Wafer shipments decreased 47.8 percent quarter-over-quarter to 168,682 units of 8-inch equivalent wafers in Q1, from 323,175 units in Q408, and down 62.9 percent year-over-year from 454,259 8-inch equivalent wafers in Q108.
Total planned capital expenditures for 2009 will be approximately $190 million and will be adjusted based on market conditions.
Richard Chang, chief executive of SMIC, painted a mixed picture. "We also witnessed significant month-over-month increases on wafer orders and fab movements since Chinese New Year,'' he said in a statement. ''The strong order recovery was driven in part by the replenishment of depleted inventory and also from increased demand in Chinese domestic consumption on wireless LAN, mobile phones, digital displays and other consumer electronics.''
SMIC has a bullish outlook, but it's unclear if it will become profitable. ''We expect our second quarter 2009 utilization rate to double compared to the first quarter,'' he said. ''Into the second quarter of 2009, we are encouraged by the increasing orders received. We anticipate approximately 60 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in revenue in the second quarter of 2009. We are hopeful that the worst is behind us, and we are working hard on all fronts to strengthen our operational and financial performance as the overall market continues to recover."
SMIC's 45-nm low-power technology qualification progress claims to be on-track. SMIC's licensed the technology from IBM Corp. ''We are positioned to move into volume production in the third quarter of 2009,'' Chang said.
Earlier this year, SMIC disclosed a dramatic cut in capital expenditures and will reduce payroll costs by 15 percent--without a workforce reduction--after fourth quarter 2008 revenue declined more than 25 percent.
Other foundry vendors, including Chartered and UMC, also posted mixed results.