Chip supplier ASML forecasts strong 2022 despite fire hit

FILE PHOTO: The Intel Corporation logo is seen on a display in a store in Manhattan, New York City, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - ASML forecast sales growth of 20% in 2022 despite a fire this month at its Berlin plant as the supplier to chipmakers on Wednesday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit.

Europe's largest technology company by market capitalisation said that the Jan. 3 fire had damaged part of one building and caused smoke damage at a second.

ASML Chief Executive Peter Wennink said "the expected impact of the fire in part of a building at our Berlin site is included" in the 2022 growth forecast.

An initial assessment on Jan. 7 said shipments of ASML's DUV products would not be affected, but left open the possibility EUV shipments could be impacted as the facility in Berlin made one part needed for the systems.

"Based on our current insights, we believe we can manage the consequences of this fire without significant impact on our system output for 2022," Wennink said in a statement.

ASML is trying to expand production as its customers, which include TSMC, Samsung Intel, invest heavily in new capacity to try to ease a global semiconductor shortage.

The Dutch company said its fourth quarter net profit was 1.77 billion euros ($2 billion), higher than the 1.51 billion euros expected on average by analysts and up from 1.35 billion euros a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data.

The earnings improvement was the result of better than expected margins of 54.2%, as sales of 5 billion euros were slightly below analyst estimates of 5.1 billion euros.

ASML said it would continue to struggle to meet demand this year, and forecast first-quarter sales of 3.3-3.5 billion euros.

The lower number comes amid some of its systems being shipped to customers before they have gone through final testing, which means 2 billion euros in extra revenue will be recognised in future quarters, it added.

"Demand is cited as 'unprecedented'," said Citi analysts in a note. "Delayed revenue recognition and (the) commentary around demand suggest upside to 2023 consensus revenue" forecasts," it said. Citi rates ASML a Buy.

In September, ASML said it was benefiting from long-term trends in the electronics industry and expected double-digit annual sales growth throughout the 2020s.

The company also said on Wednesday it would double its 2021 dividend to 5.50 euros and has received a first order from Intel for a new machine that is still under development.

ASML investors received a shock at the start of 2022, when the company suffered a fire at a factory in Berlin.

The Veldhoven, Netherlands-based company's shares, which quadrupled over 2018-2021, have declined 9% so far this year but were up 0.3% at 643.2 euros at 0841 GMT on Wednesday.

($1 = 0.8828 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Rashmi Aich and Alexander Smith)

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