MILAN (Reuters) - ASML Holding shares hit a fresh record high for a second straight day on Thursday, bringing the Dutch group's market cap above $350 billion and cementing its lead as Europe's third-largest company by market value.
The surge extended a 10% rally on Wednesday, coming after the company, which is seen as a beneficiary of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) boom, reported a growing order backlog that points to a computer chip market recovery.
"It's true that AI is becoming a bit of a hype... but in the end you start to see it in the numbers, it's not all out of thin air: ASML's order boom, Nvidia's turnover boom," said Angelo Meda, head of equities at Banor SIM in Milan.
"It's hard to say how much is exuberance and how much pure fundamentals, but it's not just a flash in the pan. And I would add, it takes courage to go against that," he said.
The "blowout" order intake prompted BofA Global Research analysts to raise their price objective for the stock to 904 euros, an 16% upside to Wednesday's closing price.
By 1536 GMT, ASML shares were up 4.6% at 811 euros, taking year-to-date gains to more than 19%, the best performer of a pan-European equity gauge. The surge has allowed ASML to overtake Swiss food group Nestle as Europe's third largest listed company.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Harry Robertson)