Intel (INTC.O) shares fell 5 per cent on Wednesday, as ballooning losses at its contract chip-making business signaled the company could take years to catch up with the profitability of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2330.TW).

Disclosing new financials details for its foundry unit on late Tuesday, Intel said the business posted operating losses of $7 billion in 2023 compared with $5.2 billion in 2022.

“We expected foundry economics to be bad, and they truly are,” said Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. “We likely have several years of substantial headwinds still in front of us.”

Intel is set to lose more than $9 billion in market value if the premarket losses hold.

The company has been spending billions of dollars to return as the dominant maker of cutting-edge chips, a position that it lost to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2330.TW), which is now the world’s biggest contract chipmaker.

The US chipmaker’s capital investments classified as “construction in progress” totaled $43.4 billion as of Dec. 30, 2023, compared with $36.7 billion a year earlier.

Intel also plans to spend $100 billion on plants across four states in the United States, in part helped by funding from the US Chips Act.

CEO Pat Gelsinger said operating losses for its contract chip-making business would peak in 2024 before breaking even by about 2027. It accounted for about 35 per cent of Intel’s total net revenue in 2023.

Intel expects the foundry business to have a gross margin of about 40 per cent by 2030, which would still trail the 53 per cent margin TSMC reported for the fourth quarter of 2023.

At T$625.5 billion ($19.52 billion) in just the final three months of the 2023, TSMC’s revenue is also much larger than the $18.9 billion in sales Intel’s foundry unit had in 2023.

Gelsinger said the foundry business was hurt by previous missteps, including its previous decision against using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) machines from Dutch firm ASML (ASML.AS). Intel has now switched over to EUV tools.

($1 = 32.0490 Taiwan dollars)