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Japan’s Hottest Stock Is Tiny Maker of $40 Million Machines

  • Up About 550% since start of 2019, Lasertec is key supplier
  • Company sells semiconductor testing machines to Samsung, TSMC
Automobile Electronic Component Manufacture Inside Robert Bosch GmbH Plant

Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

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The list of Intel Corp.’s annual supplier award winners tends to read like a who’s-who of the semiconductor industry’s biggest names. This year, it included a little-known Japanese company whose machines have become indispensable in the race to improve semiconductors and whose stock has been rocketing up as a result.

Lasertec Corp. is the world’s only maker of testing machines required to verify chip designs for the nascent extreme ultraviolet lithography (or EUV) method of chipmaking. In 2017, Lasertec solved a key piece of the EUV puzzle when it created a machine that can inspect blank EUV masks for internal flaws. Last September, it cleared another milestone by unveiling equipment that can do the same for stencils with chip designs already printed on them. This March, Intel gave the tiny Yokohama-based company an award for innovation, its first after decades of doing business together.