Chip equipment maker ASML does well

Dutch chip making equipment manufacturer ASML has indicated that things are going really well for it.

ASML financials are important because it is an IT industry bellwether and when it does well it is a sign that everything else is going well. For example, the industry stalled in the middle of 2011 as demand for consumer gadgets slowed in Europe and elsewhere due to economic uncertainties, which led to a slight slowdown in ASML’s order book in the second half of 2011.

According to Reuters, the company is saying that rising demand for smartphones, tablets and the latest super-thin personal computers is driving strong sales and new orders.

The company’s shares hit an 11-year high after it forecast demand in the early part of 2012 would top the previous quarter.

The company has a 75-80 percent market share and makes all the gear for Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Intel.

Chief Executive Eric Meurice said that the first part of 2012 will be healthy, as the company planned Q1 2012 bookings at a level above that of Q4 2011 and a first-half sales level of about 2.4 billion euros.

He said that ASML customers were continuing their introductions of advanced chip designs.

Analysts reckon first-quarter orders for ASML’s latest machines will be at least a billion euros and Meurice said he expects strong chip demand will continue into the second half of the year.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Wennink said despite the dodgy economic climate and European debt crisis, ASML customers were more confident near the end of 2011 and in November began placing first-quarter orders for the latest lithography machines.