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Stocks in this article: ASMLFASTINFYJNJMTB

ASML Holding

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Dutch semiconductor firm ASML Holding (ASML) is one of the leading photolithography firms in the world, providing customers with a key tool used to manufacture complex integrated circuits. ASML has seen its share price ebb more than flow over the last few years, as investors fled from firms in the semiconductor industry. Today, that's translated into a short interest ratio of 11.4 for the company.

ASML's photolithography tools are used to expose the circuit patterns on the physical chips, a critical step of the process of making semiconductors, and one that manufacturers are willing to pay a premium for if it gets them the technical expertise to fit more on a single chip. The chipmaking business is relatively small, and relationships matter. Because ASML has pre-existing relationships with mammoth chipmakers like Intel (INTC), it's able to focus its R&D spending in the areas that its biggest customers value.

The chip business is extremely cyclical, and the recent downturn in the industry is providing a key opportunity for semiconductor manufacturers to retool and enhance their technical abilities, which bodes well for ASML in the near-term. This $21 billion firm boasts a well-positioned balance sheet and industry forces that look likely to become tailwinds. Continuing price performance should shake out short sellers well before those cyclical factors kick in.

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