ASM Lithography NV (ASML), the Dutch manufacturer of equipment for the semiconductor fabrication process, has announced two important new contracts, an early indication that the memory chip industry is starting to emerge from its depression. The first is with JapanÆs Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd, the worldÆs largest manufacturer of semiconductor devices, for equipment to produce Direct Rambus DRAM memory chips, or D-RDRAM. ASML’s investor relations manager Jan Hoefnagels said the contract was one of the largest the Veldhoven-based company has received, though that is not surprising as our tools are getting more expensive. The other deal is with Motorola Inc, and is a volume purchase agreement for multiple advanced photolithography systems for installation at the buyerÆs fab plants in Texas and Arizona. The first phase of the contract is worth $50m, the company said. Hoefnagels said it was too early to talk of an upswing in the semiconductor business. These are only two contracts and we need some more to reach breakeven in the first half. Last year the company had a good first half, then dropped below breakeven in the second. Overall it reported a net profit for 1998 down 58.4% at NLG136.6m ($69.6m) on sales down 4.7% at NLG 1.7bn ($875m).