ASM Lithography reported fourth-quarter results that were within analysts range of expectations, but provided a softer-than-expected outlook for the first quarter.
For the quarter, revenue was EUR 1.02 billion, down 17% sequentially, and a decline from sales of EUR 1.21 billion in the year-ago quarter. Orders came in at EUR 667 million, down from EUR 831 million in the third quarter. ASM’s order numbers do not consider bookings for next-generation extreme ultra-violet, or EUV, tools, which the firm has been working on to commercialize. The firm has also periodically received some orders for preproduction versions of the tools.
Overall, ASM saw business conditions soften in the fourth quarter, as uncertain macroeconomic conditions and a nearterm slowdown in global chip demand caused the semiconductor industry as a whole to become more cautious with its capital spending levels. By customer segment, foundries accounted for 79% of ASM’s fourth-quarter orders, while memory chipmakers made up 18%. Integrated device manufacturers (firms that design and manufacture their own chips in-house, such as Intel INTC ), or IDMs, accounted for 3% of bookings.
On the profit front, ASM posted an operating profit of EUR 185 million, down from EUR 317 million in the third quarter, primarily because of lower business levels and an increase of EUR 14 million in operating expenses associated with the planned acquisition of lithography light source supplier Cymer.
For the first quarter, management expects revenue to come in at EUR 850 million, which would indicate a 17% sequential decline. Capital spending by chipmakers will likely remain slow in early 2013, as they will be somewhat conservative with capital investments in response to the recent cyclical slowdown in the overall semiconductor market.
However, ASM’s management believes that lithography tool demand will recover throughout the year. This, combined with $700 million in anticipated sales of preproduction EUV tools to customers, leads management to believe that full-year 2013 revenue will be at a similar level to 2012 sales of EUR 4.7 billion. On the EUV front, the firm continues to make progress in the development of the next-generation tools and appears to hold a technology lead.
The upcoming acquisition of Cymer will allow ASM to bring critical lithography light source technology in-house in order to accelerate EUV commercialization. Management indicated that ASM has received some regulatory clearances for the purchase, and continues to expect the transaction to close in the first half of this year.
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