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ASMI Declines on Asian Subsidiary Dividend: Amsterdam Mover

ASM International NV, Europe’s second-largest maker of semiconductor equipment, declined 1.8 percent after earnings fell and subsidiary ASM Pacific Technology Ltd. lowered its dividend.

ASMI dropped 46 cents to 25.90 euros at the close of trading in Amsterdam, reducing the company’s market value to 1.41 billion euros ($1.85 billion). ASM Pacific Technology fell 5.5 percent to HK$98.80 at the close of Hong Kong trading, the largest decline since October.

ASMI, based in Almere, the Netherlands, makes front-end machines for the fabrication process where chips are formed from the silicon wafer. It owns about 52 percent of ASM Pacific Technology, the world’s biggest maker of chip-assembly and packaging equipment, known as back-end gear.

“Back-end margins and orders in the fourth quarter were lower than expected and the sharply lower dividend at ASM PT is disappointing,” Victor Bareno, an analyst at SNS Securities with a “buy” recommendation on ASMI shares, said by phone. The ASM PT subsidiary lowered its final dividend to HK$0.80 a share from HK$2.10, missing Bareno’s estimate of H$2.00.

Operating profit at ASMI’s back-end unit dropped to 17.7 million euros from 90 million euros a year earlier, the company said in a statement last night. That missed SNS Securities’ estimate of 21 million euros. Operating profit at ASMI’s front-end business fell to 9.5 million euros from 12.5 million euros.

The company predicted lower sales in both operations in the first quarter, with an improvement after that.

“Demand for sophisticated wireless devices like smartphones will continue to drive growth,” Chief Executive Officer Chuck del Prado said on a conference call today.

Net income declined to 15 million euros from 25 million euros, while sales were unchanged at 352 million euros. ASMI increased its dividend to 50 cents a share for 2011 from 40 cents a year earlier.

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