ASML Q3 profit beats, expects China's annual sales to exceed 1b euros
ASML Holding logo is seen at CSTIC 2020 in Shanghai, China, June 27, 2020. /VCG

ASML Holding logo is seen at CSTIC 2020 in Shanghai, China, June 27, 2020. /VCG

Dutch microchip machine maker ASML reported Wednesday greater than expected sales during the third quarter. The company also raised its forecast for sales to Chinese customers to "a little over a billion" in 2020 from around 1 billion euros.

The company reported sales of 3.96 billion euros ($4.65 billion) in the third quarter ended September 30, ahead of analyst estimates of 3.7 billion euros, and a net profit of 1.06 billion euros. In the third quarter of 2019, ASML reported net profit of 627 million euros and sales of 3 billion euros.

ASML Chief Financial Officer Roger Dassen forecast sales of 3.7 billion euros in the fourth quarter and said the company expected "low double digit" growth in 2021.

ASML has a near monopoly on lithography systems, enormous machines that can cost up to $200 million each and play a vital role in the manufacture of computer chips, mapping out their circuitry.

The company shipped 10 of its top-level Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) machines in the third quarter, its top-end product used to print chips for mobile phones and computers, according to its earnings statement.

Last month, Washington asked U.S. equipment makers to seek a license to ship any equipment to SMIC, China's oldest and biggest computer chipmaker.

The new U.S. trade curbs on SMIC mean ASML must now apply for a license to sell even older-generation equipment to China, Dassen said on Wednesday.

"There are, of course, uncertainties due to the macro environment, including the economic impact of COVID-19 and geopolitical developments," ASML President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink said.

But the tech factors driving ASML's growth, such as the 5G network that Apple's new iPhones will rely on, are "still in place" and will "fuel demand," he added.

(With input from agencies)