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Chipmaker posts record revenue of $1.58b in Q4

Top Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp said its revenue rose by 61.1 percent on a yearly basis to a record $1.58 billion in the fourth quarter of last year amid a global chip shortage.

SMIC reported its gross profit stood at $552.8 million during the fourth quarter, up 212.7 percent year-on-year compared with $176.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Shanghai-based company posted $5.4 billion in revenue in 2021, up 39.3 percent on a yearly basis, while its net profit surged by 137.8 percent year-on-year to $1.7 billion last year.

SMIC noted the global shortage of chips and strong demand for local and indigenous manufacturing brought the company a rare opportunity.

There are opportunities and challenges in 2022, SMIC said, adding it will consistently adhere to compliant operations, accelerate its internationalization push, and deeply integrate into the global ecosystem.

Zhao Haijun, SMIC's co-CEO, said during an earnings call on Friday the company is pushing ahead with three new fabrication plants located in Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and Shanghai, respectively, in 2022.

He said SMIC has begun construction of its Shanghai fab plant in early 2022, and the Beijing and Shenzhen fabs are expected to be put into operation by the end of this year.

SMIC said it will continue to expand production capacity in 2022. The company's capital expenditure will be about $5 billion this year, and incremental production capacity is expected to be higher than last year.

Founded in 2000, SMIC has successfully mass-produced a smartphone processor for Huawei Technologies Co with the 14-nanometer manufacturing process, marking a breakthrough in the country's push to boost its chipmaking industry.

The US government put SMIC on an entity list which restricts its access to US technologies such as crucial software and semiconductor production equipment in December 2020.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, an industry association, said despite pressure from US sanctions, SMIC has seen its revenues and profits soar, propelled by worldwide demand due to the global chip shortage that began in late 2020.

China's semiconductor industry has witnessed rapid growth in recent years, and the number of homegrown chip design companies is also on the rise, which has fueled the demand for localized or in-house chipmakers, said Roger Sheng, vice-president of research at global consultancy Gartner Inc.

The nation scaled up production capacities in the integrated circuit industry. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed China produced 359.4 billion units of ICs last year, up 33.3 percent year-on-year, doubling the growth rate in 2020.

Meanwhile, worldwide semiconductor revenue increased 25.1 percent in 2021 to $583.5 billion, crossing the $500 billion threshold for the first time, said Gartner.

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