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Strong first-quarter demand signals a recovery for ASM Pacific

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 6:15am

ASM Pacific Technology, the world's largest assembly and packaging equipment supplier for the semiconductor and light-emitting diode (LED) industries, expects a steady market recovery this year after it posted strong order bookings in the first quarter.

"We are hopeful that, in light of the promising start, we will have a much stronger second half of the year," ASM Pacific chief executive Lee Wai-kwong said yesterday.

The company saw improved market demand result in a HK$7.95 million net profit in the first quarter, which was down 95 per cent from a year earlier but was a significant rebound from its HK$44.13 million net loss in the October-December quarter.

Revenue slid 4 per cent to HK$2.13 billion from the previous year.

Lee said new order bookings in the first quarter reached US$306.9 million, which was 17.4 per cent below that of the same period last year but was up 22.6 per cent from the fourth quarter of last year. He pointed out that the improvement in bookings "signals that the market is on its way to recovery".

Information technology research firm Gartner has forecast worldwide semiconductor sales to reach US$311 billion this year, rising from US$299 billion last year. The top-five global chip suppliers last year were Intel, Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

About 44 per cent of the machines, tools and materials supplied by ASM Pacific last quarter were shipped to China, including Hong Kong. Other leading destinations were Europe, the Americas, Malaysia and South Korea.

Lee said the huge global appetite for smartphones and media tablets remained the main driver of growth in the semiconductor equipment market. Meanwhile, demand from LED general lighting device makers helped boost ASM Pacific's LED equipment orders last quarter.

ASM Pacific's parent, the Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASM International, is not expected to further reduce its stake in the Hong Kong firm, Lee said.

ASM International sold 12 per cent of its 52 per cent stake for HK$4.27 billion last month.

Shares of ASM Pacific slipped 0.32 per cent to close at HK$78.80 yesterday.

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