Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) has reported net profits of US$10.2 million on consolidated revenues of US$370.6 million for the first quarter of 2011, showing a return to profitability from year-ago losses of US$181.7 million and 7.2% sales growth.
On a sequential basis, SMIC's first-quarter revenues declined 9.3% from US$408.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. Profits also slipped compared to the US$68.6 million posted in the prior quarter.
SMIC's gross margin decreased to 18.6% in the first quarter from 24.3% in fourth-quarter 2010. The company revealed that fab utilization slid to 72.2% in the first quarter, compared to 96.8% in the prior fourth quarter and 92.1% in the same quarter a year before.
"The quarter-over-quarter revenue decline was largely due to first quarter seasonality and our key customers' transition to our 65nm and 45nm," said David NK Wang, president and CEO of SMIC, in a statement. "Despite these situations, China displays resilience and in the first quarter, China sales grew 54% year-over-year and 3% quarter-over-quarter and now accounts for 36% of our revenue."
SMIC also disclosed that sales from 65nm process technology accounted for 13.3% of its total wafer sales in the first quarter of 2011, compared to 8.6% in the prior quarter and a mere 1.7% a year ago.
Looking forward, SMIC said revenues for the second quarter may decrease 3-7% sequentially, with lower gross margin at between 15% and 18%. "Despite the short-term setbacks, we look forward to regaining growth in the second half of 2011," Wang indicated.
In addition, Wang noted that SMIC's joint venture with Hubei Science & Technology Investment to jointly run Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing's 12-inch wafer production line will serve as a strategic component in the foundry's expansion plan.
The Wuhan fabrication facility would primarily manufacture 65nm to 45nm ICs, with a goal of achieving a production capacity of 45,000 12-inch wafers a month within the next five years, SMIC was quoted as saying in previous reports.
The 12-inch joint venture fab reportedly has landed orders from Spansion. The speculation was followed by SMIC's recent announcement that the NOR chip vendor and it would extend their current foundry arrangement to expand 65nm capacity and include the manufacture of 45nm products.