* Says full-year sales could reach 5 bln euros
* Previously saw sales around last year's 4.7 bln euros
* Q2 net profit 239 mln euros, beats forecasts
* Shares, up 40 percent this year, hit new high
(Adds CEO, analyst quotes, detail, background, shares)
By Sara Webb
AMSTERDAM, July 17 ASML, the world's
biggest manufacturer of tools for making computer chips, raised
its full-year sales forecast on Wednesday as growing demand for
smartphones and tablets more than offsets weak personal computer
The Dutch firm is seen as a barometer for the health of
Europe's technology sector and its upbeat tone suggests
manufacturers are betting on unabated consumer appetite for the
latest mobile gadgets, despite an uncertain economic outlook.
Global sales of mobile phones rose just 0.7 percent in the
first quarter, according to researchers Gartner, and while
smartphones outpaced that, recent weaker-than-expected results
from Samsung and Apple have raised fears of
ASML said its full-year sales could be as high as 5 billion
euros ($6.6 billion), excluding a recent acquisition, up 6
percent from 2012. As recently as April, it forecast sales
similar to last year's 4.73 billion euros.
"The results are comforting and healthy, and prove the
industry overall is in an upcycle and that the second half will
be meaningfully better than the first half," said Kepler
Cheuvreux analyst Bernd Laux.
Shares in ASML, up 40 percent this year, hit a new high of
68.45 euros. They were up 2.9 percent to 68.38 euro at 1120 GMT.
Analysts have said the challenge for mobile device suppliers
like ASML's customers is to make products more cheaply for
emerging markets, which are seeing strong demand for low-cost
smartphones, while also supplying goods that allow top-end
customers to make ever smaller and more powerful devices.
One analyst, who declined to be named, said ASML's results
suggested it was managing those challenges well.
Mobile devices are particularly important for ASML as sales
of smartphones and tablets are eating into demand for personal
computers (PC). Gartner expects PC shipments to fall 11 percent
this year, compared with a 68 percent jump for tablets.
ASML, which competes with Japanese groups Canon and
Nikon, cited strong demand from foundries, or
outsourced chip-makers, and from logic customers, which make
microprocessors used in computers and mobile devices.
The Dutch firm also said it had started to see additional
demand from DRAM - or Dynamic Random Access Memory - customers
for mobile devices such as tablet computers and smartphones,
prompting it to raise its full-year outlook.
"The increase is largely driven by the fact our memory
customers, especially our DRAM customers, are coming back,"
Chief Executive Peter Wennink said in a webcast interview.
"There is a clear shortage in the DRAM market especially
with respect for mobile DRAM," he added.
Wennink, who stepped up from the post of chief financial
officer to become CEO on July 1, said demand was likely to
remain very strong this year and next.
The group said it was on track with the development of its
new manufacturing technique based on extreme ultraviolet light
(EUV) which will enable the industry to produce smaller chips
and is intended to cement ASML's position as market leader.
The EUV-based technique has taken longer than expected to
develop and proved difficult to perfect, leading ASML to acquire
Cymer Inc, a supplier of lithography light sources used
to make chips, to speed up the development process.
Wennink said he expected three EUV systems to be recognized
for revenue in 2013. Some analysts expect ASML to be shipping 80
or so of these tools a year, with a price tag of about 100
million euros each, within a few years.
ASML reported better-than-expected second-quarter net profit
of 239 million euros on sales of 1.16 billion euros, with net
bookings of 1.065 billion euros. Including Cymer, net profit was
221 million euros on sales of 1.19 billion euros.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a net profit of 204
million euros on sales of 1.11 billion euros.
ASML forecast third-quarter sales of 1.3 billion euros
including Cymer, On top of the 5 billion euros in full-year
sales, ASML said it expected Cymer to contribute about 180
($1 = 0.7612 euros)
(Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Mark