ASM’s Q3 sales mirrored those of ASML in that generally weak market conditions were offset by high demand from Chinese manufacturers of mature semiconductors. The Almere-headquartered firm reported Q3 sales of 622 million euros, up 9 percent at constant currencies. Contrary to ASML, however, ASM’s order intake was about flat year-on-year.
“Following the US export controls in October last year, we’ve seen that several Chinese customers redirect their investments to more mature nodes. And even though our play with those nodes isn’t as strong as in the more advanced nodes, we still have some applications and exposure in more mature logic/foundry, and that business is significantly higher this year,” ASM CEO Benjamin Loh told investors in a conference call discussing Q3 results.
Like ASML’s Peter Wennink, Loh couldn’t provide guidance when the global downturn will end. “Parts of the end markets appear to be approaching the bottom of the cycle, based on stabilizing demand and gradual improvements in inventories, but it’s too early to tell what the exact timing and strength of the recovery is going to be.”
On a brighter note, however, the upcoming technology transition from FinFET to gate-all-around (GAA) will generate significant demand from leading-edge customers. Compared to FinFET, GAA chips contain a larger number of deposition layers and those layers are more thinner and more complex in composition, driving demand for advanced ALD tools. ASM received some GAA-related orders in Q3 but expects more in the next quarter.