Sumco Corp, the world's second-biggest silicon wafer maker, said on Monday its profit slipped in the nine months to Oct. 31 on strong sales of wafers used to make microchips, but it kept its full-year forecast.

Sumco, which competes with Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd., earned a net profit of 55.46 billion yen ($511 million) in the February-October period, against 59.34 billion yen in the year-ago period, as sales jumped 69.3 percent on demand for PCs, mobile phones and digital gadgets.

The company kept its group forecast for the year to Jan. 31 at 74 billion yen. That compares with a consensus estimate of 76.1 billion yen by 18 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Sumco, which is locked in a capacity race with Shin-Etsu, aims to raise 300-millimetre wafer output capacity to 1 million wafers by the beginning of next year to keep pace with demand for semiconductors, which are cut from their wafers.

Wafer makers are benefiting as chip makers shift to 300-mm wafers, which yield twice as many chips as 200-mm wafers, to cut per-chip production costs.

Sumco, in which Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. each hold about a 30 percent stake, is also betting on growing demand for solar wafers.

But similar moves by rivals are tightening supply of high-grade silicon and resulting in double-digit price rises in 2007.

(Reporting by Mayumi Negishi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)