* Says EUV technology on track
* Repeats H1 sales forecast for 3 bln eur
* Q4 net profit 481 mln eur vs analyst f'cast for 422 mln
* Shares up 7 pct, top European gainers
(Recasts, adds analyst comment, CEO comment, investment in EUV,
By Sara Webb
VELDHOVEN, The Netherlands, Jan 22 ASML
, the world's biggest manufacturer of tools for the
semiconductor industry, gave an optimistic outlook for 2014,
saying its investment in new technology crucial to making the
smaller, smarter chips of the future was starting to pay off.
Shares in the Dutch company, which reported
better-than-expected results on robust demand for the latest
smartphones and tablets, shot up 7 percent on the reassurance
that its investment in a technique using extreme ultraviolet
(EUV) light, which has been beset by delays, was winning it
The upbeat outlook also points to rising consumer appetite
for the latest mobile gadgets in the face of a patchy economic
environment. ASML's earnings are widely viewed as an indicator
of the European technology sector's health.
ASML has invested heavily in EUV technology, buying Cymer
Inc, a supplier of lithography light sources used to make chips,
for $2.5 billion in Oct. 2012 to speed up the development after
it had suffered a string of setbacks.
"People were worried about EUV and delays, but this morning
ASML came out and said they are on track so it's a relief," said
Tammy Qiu, analyst at Berenberg, although she added that "EUV is
still a work in progress."
The stock was up 7.6 percent at 67.89 euros at 1221 GMT,
making it the top gainer in Europe.
ASML said on Wednesday that it has already shipped its first
three EUV scanners and expected to deliver another eight this
"Expecting further improvements in system performance during
the year, we are preparing for additional ... orders," Chief
Executive Peter Wennink said in a statement.
The chip equipment maker reiterated its forecast for
first-half sales of about 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion)
excluding EUV, or roughly on a level with the sales in the
second half of 2013, and said that each EUV system booked as
revenue adds another 60-70 million euros to the figure.
It also predicted first-quarter sales of around 1.4 billion
euros, including EUV.
ASML forecast a gross margin of around 42 percent in the
first quarter, which it said would have been 1.9 percentage
points higher were it not for an order for one EUV system for
which it did not book a profit.
ASML's strong performance last year was driven by demand
from logic customers which make microprocessors used in
computers and mobile devices, and from DRAM - or Dynamic Random
Access Memory - customers for mobile devices.
"The three main segments of our business - memory, logic or
foundry, and the new microprocessors - all came together for the
first time in a long time and they started to accelerate,"
Wennink said, adding that "All in all, it's a very solid basis
for the full year".
It reported fourth-quarter net profit of 481 million euros
on sales of 1.85 billion euros and said it intends to increase
its dividend by 15 percent to 0.61 euros per share for 2013.
For the full year, net profit was 1.02 billion euros on
sales of 5.25 billion euros.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a fourth-quarter net
profit of 422 million euros on sales of 1.81 billion euros. They
expect net profit of 1.49 billion euros in 2014 on sales of 6.63
ASML's shares have gained 24.6 percent over the past year,
but are off their Oct. 3 all-time high of 75.05 euros.
(Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Louise Heavens)