By Harro Ten Wolde
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Dutch lithography machine maker ASML forecast a bigger-than-expected rise in 2015 revenue as its customers prepared to add more semiconductor production capacity, lifting its shares more than 4 percent.
The world's second-largest chip manufacturing equipment maker after Applied Materials said on Wednesday maintenance and upgrade orders offset slower sales growth of new machines.
Its outlook was bolstered by a steep rise in bookings, which totalled 1.52 billion euros $1.67 billion) at the end of June, up nearly 500 million euros from March.
"Our customers position to continue to add capacity," ASML's Chief Executive Peter Wennink said. "That makes us very confident about the second half of this year."
ASML's forecasts are watched by investors for clues as to how clients such as Samsung Electronics, Intel and TSMC are building the next generation of chips for computers, smartphones, and other products.
Its lithography machines use highly focused light beams to map the circuitry of computer chips, and cost more than 30 million euros each on average, with its latest machines triple that price.
ASML shares hit an all-time high of 104.85 euros in May after it received an order for 15 of its next-generation machines using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) rays, from a U.S. customer, which analysts identified as Intel.
Improvements in lithography are seen as key to making smaller and faster microchips with ever greater computing power, the fundamental driver of the exponential progress in technology known as "Moore's Law" - the 50-year-old trend whereby computer chips have doubled in capacity every two years.
ASML's second-quarter sales rose 0.6 percent to 1.65 billion euros and net profit fell 7.2 percent to 370 million. Both were in line with expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The company forecast third-quarter sales of 1.5 billion to 1.6 billion euros, and Wennink said the fourth quarter would be at least as strong as the third.
That implies 2015 revenues of 6.3 to 6.5 billion euros, at least meeting the average analyst expectation of 6.3 billion.
Shares in ASML closed up 4.4 percent at 98.30 euros.
Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, is due to report quarterly results after market close on Wednesday.
Market research firm Gartner has cut its forecast for growth in worldwide semiconductor capital spending this year to 2.5 percent from an earlier estimate of 4.1 percent.
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)