Technology supplier ASML sees bookings drop as sector slows

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, the world’s largest supplier of equipment for making microchips, said yesterday it had seen a fall in new orders during the fourth quarter of 2012, suggesting a slowdown in the market.

Since ASML supplies much of the technology used to make the processors and graphics cards used in computers and smartphones, its performance is seen as a bellwether for the global technology sector.

Netherlands-based ASML said bookings had declined by a fifth, from €831m (£693m) in the third quarter to €667m in the fourth.

The company reported sales of €1.02bn in the period, and €4.7bn for the whole of 2012, against €5.7bn in the previous year.

The company said it expects a slow start to 2013, with sales declining in the first quarter, but said that things will pick up later on in the year, as companies invest in 4G technology.

“We plan net sales for 2013 at a similar level to that of 2012, with a slow first-quarter start, recovering in the second quarter and a relatively large second half,” it said.

Despite the slowdown in bookings, shares in ASML rose seven per cent in Amsterdam yesterday, as the firm managed to increase profits to €298m (£249m) despite the revenue drop.