Daily Brief: Chip-Starved Carmakers Could Be In For A Second Wind As TSMC Digs Deep To Help Them

Daily Brief: Chip-Starved Carmakers Could Be In For A Second Wind As TSMC Digs Deep To Help Them

over 2 years ago3 mins

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TSMC raised its sales forecast for the year on Thursday, as the world’s biggest contract chipmaker does what it can to help the supply-starved car industry.

What does this mean?

TSMC – which is seen as a bellwether for both chipmakers and the global economy as a whole – raised its revenue forecast for 2021, with the firm now expecting sales to grow more than 20% from last year. That probably has something to do with the ongoing chip shortage, which is playing right into suppliers’ hands as they race to fulfill a backlog of orders.

TSMC revenue
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Not so much for carmakers, which have been at the back of the line for chips and forced to dial back production until they reach the front (or offer Big Tech money for the goods). But that could be about to change: TSMC told carmakers on Thursday to expect a sharp pickup in the next few weeks, with the firm forecasting its production of auto chips will climb 60% for the full year compared to 2020. That should help, but it’s no silver bullet: TSMC warned that supply will remain tight into 2022.

Racing ahead

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Bow down to Apple.

TSMC’s improved sales forecast for 2021 might also have something to do with Apple: the chipmaker’s biggest customer is reportedly asking suppliers to help boost iPhone production by 20% this year to 90 million units. Clearly Apple’s expecting strong demand for its upcoming 5G-enabled smartphones, and the tech giant knows only too well that mind control devices don’t build themselves.

The bigger picture: Carmakers roll with the punches.

The global chip shortage is denting carmakers’ sales, sure, but it’s also helping them increase their profit margins. That’s because a lot of them have pivoted: Daimler, for one, was focusing production on more profitable models last quarter, which was partly why it reported a jump in profit that blew past expectations on Thursday.

Keep reading for our next story...

Fintech Giant Revolut Just Became The Most Valuable UK Startup

Revolut image

Revolut became the UK’s most valuable startup on Thursday, so now the Brits can start treating the fintech giant like the rest of their respected figureheads.

What does this mean?

With more than 15 million customers, Revolut is one of Europe’s brightest young things. And it just got even brighter: the fintech giant announced on Thursday that it had raised $800 million from investors – Japan’s SoftBank among them – at a $33 billion valuation. That’s six times last year’s valuation, and it helped the company surge past Checkout.comvalued at $15 billion – as the UK’s number one startup.

Revolut will use the money to fund new products, as well as expand into untapped markets like the US and India. The firm’s new investors, meanwhile, will just be hoping that its growth ambitions aren’t as costly as they were last year, when rapid global growth caused staff costs to surge and losses to double.

UK fintech fundraising is much higher this year
UK fintech fundraising is much higher this year | The Wall Street Journal

Why should I care?

For markets: This is a pattern.

At the risk of upsetting Revolut’s fragile ego, the company isn’t exactly special: valuations of European fintech firms have skyrocketed this year. Swedish buy-now-pay-later startup Klarna saw its valuation quadruple in less than a year to $46 billion last month, while N26 is currently in fundraising talks that could value the German digital bank at around $10 billion – almost three times its valuation a year ago.

European fintech valuations have exploded
European fintech valuations have exploded

The bigger picture: Disruptors get disrupted.

Digital banks like N26 are used to disrupting traditional banks, but they’re about to get a taste of their own medicine. The European Central Bank gave the green light for a multi-year project to create a digital version of the euro this week. And if savers take a fancy to holding digital money with the central bank, that could cause customer deposits – an essential source of cheap funding for banks – to start drying up.

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