ASML Orders Rebound in Third Quarter


Dutch chip equipment maker ASML said on Wednesday it received orders for 40 machines in the third quarter, broadly in line with average analyst estimates, as bookings rebounded from a second-quarter slump.

ASML's order intake compared with an average estimate of 44 machines given in a Reuters poll of 14 analysts, but the range in the poll was wide at 36 to 60 machines.

"We ... expect that fourth-quarter order unit intake will exceed third-quarter bookings, and we see potential for our revenues over the first three quarters of 2008 to exceed the first three quarters of 2007," ASML Chief Executive Eric Meurice said in a statement.

In the second quarter, the world's largest maker of semiconductor lithography machines reported order intake of 30 units, its lowest in two years, as overcapacity and falling prices for memory chips depressed demand.

Third-quarter net profit rose 4.3 percent from the second quarter to 168 million euros ($239 million) and compared with an average analyst forecast of 148 million.

The company, which competes with Japan's Nikon and Canon, said the value of new orders was 857 million euros, leading to a backlog of 1.77 billion euros.

ASML said the rise in orders, particularly for its most advanced lithography machines, was initially driven by makers of flash-memory chips, used in digital cameras and music players.

The company expects manufacturers of computer memory (DRAM) to continue to face price pressure, forcing them to invest into technology upgrades, which would help ASML's business as well.

Shares in ASML have risen 15 percent so far this year, beating a 5 percent rise in the DJ Stoxx technology index.

Of 33 analysts tracked by Reuters Estimates, 15 rate the shares "hold", while 16 rate them "buy" or "outperform". Two analysts have an "underperform" or "sell" rating.