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ASML’s new CEO has tricky path to a 1,000% return



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The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) -For a $278 billion company that plays a key role in the world’s chipmaking industry, ASML’s ASML.AS succession has been far from dramatic. On Thursday the Dutch group said Chief Executive Peter Wennink is retiring after a decade at the helm. Christophe Fouquet, current chief business officer and a French national, will take over next April.

ASML has had an extraordinary run under Wennink. The Veldhoven-based group dominates the market for lithography equipment, a key tool for making microchips used to power everything from smartphones to cars. Demand for its kit has seen ASML’s revenue quadruple and its shares deliver a 1,000% total return since Wennink took over in July 2013. ASML stock trades at a rich 32 times this year’s earnings, according to LSEG data.

That success is also a challenge for Fouquet. Wennink made four acquisitions during his tenure, according to Dealogic data. But ASML’s current market power makes it harder for his successor to do deals without inviting antitrust scrutiny. Demand for chips over the last decade soared thanks to the boom in smartphones, which is now slowing. A U.S.-China trade war also means the company is only able to sell Chinese customers less sophisticated machines. The next 1,000% return is likely to take longer than 10 years. (By Karen Kwok)


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Graphic: ASML’s performance under Peter Wennink https://tmsnrt.rs/3N5ZIpz


Editing by Neil Unmack and Oliver Taslic

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