(Bloomberg) -- With tech earnings looming this month, investor attention is zeroing in on some of Asia’s largest chipmakers. And there’s reason for it: the sector’s influence on the region’s stocks has kept on growing.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is set to report fourth-quarter results Thursday, potentially hitting record revenue of more than $10.2 billion and its highest quarterly gross margins since 2018, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Charles Shum said in a Jan. 7 preview. TSMC shares are up more than 4% this month and touched an intraday high Tuesday.
“Many of TSMC’s customers such as Huawei, Qualcomm and Mediatek are quickening their pace of adopting cutting-edge processes to prepare for the launch of 5G mobile devices,” Shum said in the report.
Rival Samsung Electronics Co. releases its final results Jan. 30. Preliminary figures announced earlier this month showed quarterly earnings beat estimates as global chip prices have shown signs of escaping a protracted slump.
The two chipmaking behemoths are the No. 3 and 4 largest stocks in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index and also key contributors to the growing influence of technology names in the gauge. The industry now accounts for almost 15% of the regional gauge, up from 12% at the start of 2019. Internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have the highest weightings in the index.
Managers of emerging-market stocks have increased their exposure to semiconductor shares to a record 7.3%, making of it the largest overweight by sector, according to Steven Holden, an analyst at Smartkarma Holdings Pte. Taiwan and South Korean equity overweights also hit a peak, with TSMC among the most favorite companies, it said.
Despite all the positives, one potential question mark for TSMC remains Huawei Technologies Co. Tighter export restrictions on the Chinese company by the U.S. would make some of TSMC’s technologies unshippable to Huawei, analysts led by Mark Li at Sanford C. Bernstein wrote in a Jan. 8 note. While the actual impact on revenue is expected to be in the low single digits and TSMC will be able to pivot to other customers, a short-term impact is “inevitable as share shifts and supply-chain realignment take time.”
But overall, the outlook for the semiconductor industry is positive on growth drivers including new 5G technology adoption, internet of things momentum, robust data center demand and even new game console launches, Credit Suisse analysts Randy Abrams and Haas Liu said in a Jan. 13 report.
“Stocks are recovering from the prior decade’s de-rating and returning to pre-crisis valuations that can sustain,” the analysts said. The main risk? With higher valuations after a strong 2019 rally, any disappointment from product cycle ramps or macro shocks could lead to potential short-term pullbacks, they added.
MSCI Asia Pacific Index up 0.2%Japan's Topix index up 0.3%; Nikkei 225 up 0.7%Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index down 0.3%; Hang Seng China Enterprises down 0.4%; Shanghai Composite down 0.1%; CSI 300 down 0.2%Taiwan's Taiex index up 0.5%South Korea's Kospi index up 0.3%; Kospi 200 up 0.4%Australia's S&P/ASX 200 up 0.8%; New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 up 0.7%India's S&P BSE Sensex Index little changed; NSE Nifty 50 little changedSingapore's Straits Times Index up 0.5%; Malaysia’s KLCI down 0.7%; Philippine Stock Exchange Index down 0.5%; Jakarta Composite up 0.2%; Thailand's SET little changed; Vietnam's VN Index up 0.2%S&P 500 e-mini futures little changed after index closed up 0.7% in last session
(Adds Smartkarma comments in sixth paragraph, stock-summary section)
--With assistance from Cormac Mullen, Abhishek Vishnoi and Moxy Ying.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Lam in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Anstey at email@example.com, Lianting Tu, Cecile Vannucci
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