BESI exceeds fourth-quarter targets on demand for AI-related chipmaking parts

FILE PHOTO: A worker miniature is placed among printed circuit boards with semiconductor chips, in this illustration picture taken July 5, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Dutch chipmaking equipment supplier BE Semiconductor Industries beat its fourth-quarter targets on Thursday, boosted by demand for its hybrid bonding technology and AI-enabled computing applications from chipmakers expanding their capacity.

Semiconductor firms have been ramping up production capacity to meet global demand for high-end chips that power modern technology from cars to computers and smartphones.

Orders and year-end backlog for hybrid bonding — a form of chip packaging required for AI applications — nearly doubled from last year, BESI said, adding that around a half of fourth-quarter orders were for its most advanced hybrid bonding systems.

The assembly equipment maker reported a gross profit margin of 65.1% for the fourth quarter of 2023, on revenue of 159.6 million euros ($172.9 million), up 29.4% compared to the prior three months.

That exceeded the company's guidance for a gross margin of between 62% and 64% and quarter-on-quarter revenue growth of 15% to 25%.

For the first quarter of 2024, the Amsterdam-based group expects its revenue to drop between 5% and 15% from the previous quarter, but sees a higher gross margin of 64% to 66%, helped by its advanced packaging products.

"The slope of the recovery this year is uncertain given restrained demand for mainstream applications and weakness in automotive end-user markets currently," CEO Richard Blickman said in a statement.

Blickman said industry analysts expect the market to rebound in 2024-2026 driven by a recovery in mainstream assembly and Chinese markets, coupled with additional capacity needs for AI logic and memory applications and advanced packaging technology.

BESI said in plans to pay a dividend of 2.15 euros per share for 2023.

($1 = 0.9232 euros)

(Reporting by Dagmarah Mackos in Gdansk; editing by Milla Nissi)

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