(Adds analyst’s comments, share price, details)
By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM, April 22 (Reuters) - ASML, Europe’s largest supplier to computer chip makers, will sell 15 of its next-generation machines to a single U.S. customer, it said on Wednesday, in a deal that could be worth more than $1 billion.
Analysts identified the likely buyer of the lithography systems as Intel and said the deal would not only boost ASML growth for years to come, but was also a big vote of confidence in the technology.
The extreme ultraviolet (EUV) chip etching systems - which use focused energy beams to trace out the circuitry of semiconductors, making them smaller and faster than ever - have a list price of 95 million euros ($102 million) each.
“In our view this is a clear sign of trust in the new technology, which will be welcomed by the market,” said ING analyst Robin van den Broek, who rates shares a “hold”.
“Moreover, it will also put pressure on other chip manufacturers, especially logic clients, to also consider bulking up orders for EUV,” he wrote.
ASML shares were up 8.6 percent at 99.50 euros by 1044 GMT.
ASML spokesman Niclas Mika said the first two systems in Wednesday’s order would be delivered this year.
Intel declined to comment.
The world’s largest chip makers all use ASML’s machines, but Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) are pushing hardest to integrate the new machines into their manufacturing process. TSMC has said it expects to have a machine in full-scale commercial use by the end of next year.
Several leading chipmakers have invested in both ASML and the EUV technology itself. Intel holds 14.37 percent of ASML, while TSMC and Samsung Electronics have smaller stakes.
Separately, ASML said last week it expected to ship six EUV systems this year. TSMC has confirmed it will take two. Now that Intel is expected also to take two, analysts will be looking to see whether Apple’s major chip supplier Samsung will be purchasing the final pair. ($1 = 0.9295 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Thomas)