ASML tops profit forecast and sees surge in bookings

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Semiconductor equipment maker ASML beat quarterly profit and bookings forecasts on Wednesday, continuing a strong run of results on demand for its latest chipmaking equipment.

FILE PHOTO: ASML Holding logo is seen at company's headquarters in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Januari 23, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier/File Photo

The Dutch firm’s shares have surged 75% this year, shrugging off weak end-markets for semiconductor producers as ASML’s cutting-edge equipment remains in demand from computer chip heavyweights like Samsung Electronics and Taiwan Semiconductor.

Third-quarter net profit came in at 627 million euros ($692 million), beating analysts’ average forecast of 609 million according to a Reuters poll, though the outcome was down on the 680 million made in the same period last year.

ASML shares dipped 1.0 percent to 240 euros in early trading, after closing on Tuesday at an all-time high of 243.2 euros. The stock’s rapid rise has seen the company’s equity market value top 100 billion euros.

Third-quarter sales of 3 billion euros met analysts’ estimates, driven by demand for 5G telecom network and artificial intelligence applications, and the company forecast fourth-quarter sales of 3.8 billion euros.

ASML said it had received bookings for 23 of its most advanced lithography systems, which cost around 100 million euros each. Lithography is at the heart of the chipmaking process, using beams of light to map out the circuitry of chips.

ASML is a near-monopolist in the category and said its newest technology using Extreme Ultraviolet, or EUV, beams, was going mainstream.

“This strong order inflow confirms the adoption of EUV in high volume manufacturing for Logic and Memory” chips, said Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink in a statement.

“We continue to see 2019 as a growth year.”

For all products, net bookings amounted to 5.1 billion euros in the quarter, compared to just 2.8 billion in the March 31-June 30 2019 period.

“All in all a reasonable quarter but the extra strength in this update is in the very strong bookings number” said ING analysts in a note, maintaining a “buy” rating on the stock.

“Looking beyond 2019, ASML sees a very healthy market for logic. Memory market recovery is still uncertain.”

Forecaster IHS Markit predicts the global semiconductor market will rebound 5% in 2020 to $449 billion after a 13% decline this year.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Mark Potter