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TAIPEI, April 18 (Reuters) - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd said on Thursday that its first-quarter net profit rose 18 percent from a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations, buoyed by demand for its chips used in smartphones and tablets.
Net profit for the world's biggest contract chipmaker was T$39.58 billion ($1.3 billion) in the January-March period, above the T$37.61 billion average estimate of 19 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The result compared with profit of T$41.57 billion in the previous quarter and T$33.4 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Sales at Taiwan's contract chipmakers grew in the first three months of this year, with TSMC last week reporting a 26 percent increase in first-quarter sales, beating its own guidance issued in January.
TSMC supplies Qualcomm Inc, Texas Instruments Inc and Nvidia Corp.
TSMC will hold an investor conference at 0600 GMT on Thursday to give its outlook for the second quarter.
Shares of TSMC have risen about 3 percent in the year to date, versus a 1 percent rise in the broader market. ($1 = 29.8650 Taiwan dollars) (Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Chris Gallagher)