STMicro shares surge as chipmaker unveils better-than-expected guidance

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STMicro shares surge as chipmaker unveils better-than-expected guidance

By Scott Kanowsky -- Shares in STMicroelectronics NV (EPA: STM ) jumped towards the top of the pan-European STOXX 600 on Thursday, touching their biggest intraday climb since March, after the chipmaker said it expects to post first-quarter and full-year sales above estimates.

The Switzerland-based firm said it sees net revenue in the first three months of its 2023 fiscal year at $4.20 billion, which would represent a year-on-year increase of 18.5%. Analysts had predicted the figure would be at $3.81B.

Annually, STMicro anticipates that the top-line number will be in the range of $16.8B to $17.8B, also above Bloomberg consensus expectations of $16.28B.

Undergirding this outlook were fourth-quarter revenues of $16.13 million, a surge of more than a fifth compared to the prior year. Gross margin also rose by 20 basis points to 47.5%. The company said these upticks, which were both above its mid-point forecasts, were driven by strong demand in its automotive and industrial units.

STMicro's guidance comes at an uncertain time for the wider semiconductor industry. Chipmakers have said they are dealing with slowing demand due to elevated living costs and higher interest rates, as well as supply constraints stemming from COVID-19 restrictions in major chip producer China.

Earlier this month, Samsung (KS: 005930 ) - the world's biggest producer of memory chips for TVs and mobile devices - warned that its fourth-quarter operating profit will slide by almost 70%. However, Dutch semiconductor supplier ASML (AS: ASML ) said this week that its largest customers were expecting demand to recover in the second half of 2023.

Analysts agreed that STMicro has benefitted from solid automotive chip demand, but debated over how much longer this boost would last.

Citi analysts said the company has been resilient in the face of cyclical pressures, adding that its current performance and trajectory are "under-appreciated." But analysts at Jefferies argued they expect slowing car sales and that high inventories will likely weigh on sales of auto chips.

“We find it difficult to reconcile [STMicro]’s bullish outlook with an industry which is already showing broad weakness in all areas outside automotive,” the Jefferies analysts said.


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