Wilton tech manufacturer records big third quarter

Order bookings and profits surged in the third quarter for ASML, whose Wilton semiconductor equipment manufacturing plant is the largest high-tech factory in Fairfield County.

The Netherlands-based ASML reported net bookings of more than $5.3 billion in the third quarter, an 81 percent increase, with profits up nearly a third to $692 million. The company recorded a 16 percent increase in net sales to $3.3 billion.

The gains have come despite a prediction by the Stamford-based technology research firm Gartner that worldwide semiconductor sales would drop nearly 10 percent this year, citing numerous factors including the ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States, slowing demand for mobile phones and an oversupply globally of chips used to store information in devices.

Semiconductor makers use ASML’s systems to imprint circuitry onto chips, with the company’s competitors including Canon and Nikon. Early this year, ASML settled patent litigation with Nikon, paying $165 million alongside Germany-based Zeiss to Nikon and with the rivals agreeing to pay mutual royalties of less than 1 percent for future sales of equipment at the heart of the dispute.

ASML shipped 52 new systems between July and September, 11 more than in the third quarter of 2018. ASML received 23 orders during the most recent period for its newest extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, which are designed to produce circuit lines as narrow as seven billionths of a meter.

The company lists about 100 open jobs in Wilton, with ASML having spent the past year in a hiring push and completing early this year a parking garage to accommodate the additional workers, with its local workforce now numbering more than 1,600 people.

“It was a good quarter and provided another clear signal on the increasing customer confidence in EUV technology, as witnessed by the strong ... order volume,” said CEO Peter Wennink, during a Wednesday conference call. “We expect a very strong fourth quarter in both sales and profitability, ... fueled by end-market applications requiring high performance computing, such as 5G and (artificial intelligence).”

Wennink added the company is expecting additional sales in the coming year as autonomous vehicle systems gain traction.

Includes prior reporting by Patricia Gay.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman