LONDON —Lithography system provider ASML posted strong fourth quarter results, capping a year in which it posted record sales and shipped 10 next-generation extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tools.

Oft-delayed EUV is finally on the cusp of being inserted into production, with some leading-edge chip makers planning to use it late this year or early next.  

Peter Wennink, ASML's president and CEO, said "preparations for inserting EUV into high-volume chip manufacturing shifted into a higher gear" in 2017.

ASML recorded EUV revenue for the year of 1.1 billion euros (about $1.34 billion) and picked up an additional 10 EUV system orders during the fourth quarter, exiting the year with a new high water EUV backlog of 28 systems.

In all, ASML reported 2017 sales of 9.05 billion euro (about $11.04 billion) up 33 percent from 2016. The company posted a profit for the year of 2.12 billion euro (about $2.59 billion), up 44 percent from 2016.

In the fourth quarter, ASML had total sales of 2.56 billion euros (about $3.12 billion), up 4 percent from the third quarter. The company reported a net income for the quarter of 644 million euros (about $786 million), up 16 percent from the third quarter.

Peter Wennink
Peter Wennink

Wennink said ASML shipped two EUV systems earlier than expected in the fourth quarter, as industry strength prompted customers to ask for earlier delivery of both EUV and optical lithography systems.

ASML also reported that it increased system sales to China by more than 20 percent from 2016 as the company continued to support China's expanding semiconductor industry. Alongside shipments to mainland fabs operated by non-Chinese customers, it is also planning to ship to five domestic Chinese customers in 2018.

Shipments of optical lithography tools also grew substantially in 2017. The company said optical lithography system shipments increased by 21 percent over 2016, reaching 161 systems.

ASML said it expects first quarter sales to be about 2.2 billion euro (about $2.7 billion). 

— Nitin Dahad is a European correspondent for EE Times.

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