AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - There is no sign of any slackening in demand from semiconductor manufacturers amid the global computer chip shortage, the chief executive of key equipment supplier ASML Holding NV said on Wednesday, especially in the market for older chips.
ASML, which sells equipment to TSMC, Samsung, Intel and others, earlier reported better than expected first quarter earnings.
"Currently we see no signs of any weakening in our customer base. Zero," Peter Wennink said on a call with analysts. "And even if demand weakens, there is a big gap between the demand and our capacity."
Wennink dismissed questions about possible slack in the industry, saying that in addition to a waiting period of more than a year for the company's cutting edge products, "almost every customer we have ever sold a machine to" is currently trying to acquire older chip manufacturing equipment.
ASML makes lithography systems, used to create the circuitry of computer chips.
Wennink told an anecdote about an unnamed major industrial company that he said was buying old washing machines in order to salvage the chips in them, adding that the story was not unique.
He also noted that utilisation rates of ASML's machines were at all-time highs, suggesting that customers are buying more not to stockpile but because they cannot keep up with demand.
"You tell me whether we're too optimistic," he said in answer to one question. "We're just looking at the data points, they just point to a market that is significantly short of semiconductor manufacturing capacity. This year and next year."
The company's shares were up 6% at 595 euros at 1412 GMT.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)