Thai floods, lower demand hit Fairchild Semi Q4 profits

Fairchild Semiconductor saw profits plummet by 58 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year ago, a result of reduced demand for the company’s computer chips and the 2011 floods in Thailand, according to financial statements released Thursday.

Fairchild reported fourth quarter profits of $21.3 million, down from $35.8 million in the third quarter, and a big drop from the $51 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Fourth quarter sales hit $339.4 million, down 16 percent from the third quarter and 15 percent from the same period a year ago.

“Distribution sell-through decreased 20 percent sequentially due to lower end market demand and further downstream inventory reductions in the appliance, consumer, industrial, solar and computing supply chains. We also experienced about a 2 to 3 percentage point negative impact to sales due to supply disruptions related to the flooding in Thailand,” said Mark Thompson, Fairchild’s president and CEO. “There were some bright spots in demand as our mobile analog business posted solid sequential sales growth in the fourth quarter and our auto sales also held up well.”

Fairchild doesn’t have any of its own operations in Thailand, though that country is home to a broad range of semiconductor test and assembly companies that work with many computer chip makers.

The drop in sales and profits continues a decline seen in the third quarter, when Fairchild saw a 7percent dip in sales over the previous quarter.

The computer chip manufacturer has more than 9,000 employees in 27 locations globally. There are 800 in Maine, working at its fabrication facility and its corporate offices, both in South Portland.

The company forecast revenue of $340 million to $370 million for the first quarter of 2012.

Both the revenue projections and Fairchild’s fourth quarter performance fell short of analysts’ expectations. According to Thomson Reuters, analysts had expected 1Q revenues of $382.8 million, and 4Q 2011 revenue of $358.9 million.

Fairchild, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol FCS, closed at $14.53 Wednesday.