ASML Names Peter Wennink as New CEO, Announces Share Buyback

ASML Holding NV, Europe’s largest semiconductor-equipment supplier, named finance director Peter Wennink chief executive officer as it announced a 1 billion-euro buyback and first-quarter profit that beat estimates.

Eric Meurice, 56, whose contract as CEO was set to end next year, will give up that job July 1 and become chairman, the Veldhoven, Netherlands-based company said today.

ASML rose as much as 9.4 percent, the biggest gain in nine months. During eight years under Meurice, ASML has doubled revenue, quintupled its share price and sold stakes to customers Samsung Electronics Co., Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

“Wennink will ensure continuity in terms of strategy and steady execution,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts including Didier Scemama said in a note to clients.

The former Deloitte & Touche partner, 55, will take over as chipmakers are curbing orders while personal-computer sales fall and production is shifted toward handheld devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers, requiring more advanced technology. ASML said today first-quarter sales dropped to 892 million euros from 1.02 billion euros in the fourth quarter, beating the analysts’ average estimate of 874 million euros.

“PC’s are cannibalized by tablets,” Wennink said in a video posted on ASML’s website. “We do ship to logic customers, but the shipment to memory customers is low. That is something that we see throughout 2013.”

PC Shipments

ASML forecast second-quarter sales of about 1.1 billion euros. The company repeated its projection for 2013 sales to be at a similar level to 2012 revenue of 4.73 billion euros. ASML also said it plans to return excess cash to shareholders as it repurchases as much as 1 billion euros of stock.

“Repeating its outlook for 2013 shows that the bottom was reached in the first quarter,” Peter Olofsen, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets said by phone.

ASML traded 7.6 percent higher at 55.16 euros as of 10:26 a.m. in Amsterdam, giving the chip-equipment maker a market value of about 23 billion euros.

Last week, research firm Gartner Inc. said global PC shipments dropped 11 percent in the first quarter to 79.2 million units.

New Team

The new management team will consist of Wennink, joined by Martin van den Brink as president and chief technology officer. Frits van Hout and Frederic Schneider-Maunoury will continue as executive vice presidents. Wennink will continue as CFO until the company appoints a successor.

The company sold stakes to customers Samsung, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to fund development of so-called extreme ultraviolet lithography technology, known as EUV, which shrinks the size of chips while increasing their capacity and speed.

ASML agreed to buy Cymer Inc. for 1.95 billion euros in October, its biggest deal ever, to expand in EUV. The San Diego-based company makes the light source for the technology.

“We’re making steady progress with EUV,” Wennink said. The company is preparing the shipments and installations of the first two NXE:3300B EUV systems in the second and third quarter. Companies are testing these systems before using them in a more widespread manner.

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