Sat, Aug 17, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Applied Materials misses estimates

NEAR-TERM ‘CHOPPINESS’:Customers will return to ordering later this year as part of an annual trend of third-quarter slumping, Applied Materials said.


Applied Materials Inc’s shares slipped in extended trading on Thursday after the company reported fiscal third-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates and gave a disappointing sales forecast as customers delay factory upgrades.

The company, the largest supplier of chipmaking equipment, also promoted Gary Dickerson to chief executive officer, replacing Mike Splinter, who will remain chairman.

Revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter will be unchanged from the third quarter, when sales were US$1.98 billion, the company said in a statement. Analysts on average had projected sales of US$2.06 billion in the third quarter and US$2.14 billion in the fourth, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Applied Materials’ revenue projection fell short of predictions for a second straight quarter amid muted semiconductor demand and a record slump in the personal-computer market. Companies that make chips on a contract basis, known as foundries, are installing equipment they have already bought and will return to ordering later this year, Splinter said.

“We’ve seen this for the last few years where foundry spending in particular drops off in the third calendar quarter,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to see the orders come back before the end of the year.”

Applied Materials’ shares fell as much as 4.1 percent to US$14.70 in late trading after the earnings and executive change announcement. The stock declined 2.6 percent to US$15.33 at Thursday’s close in New York, leaving it up 34 percent so far this year.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), Samsung Electronics Co and other companies that make mobile-phone parts may also be waiting for smartphone demand to accelerate before they commit more of their budgets, Stifel Nicolaus & Co analyst Patrick Ho, said.

“In the near term, there’s a bit of choppiness,” Ho, who is based in Dallas, said. “It’s just part of the nature of doing business when you have such a concentrated customer base.”

He recommends buying Applied Materials shares.

For the third quarter, which ended on July 28, the Santa Clara, California-based company posted profit of US$168 million, or US$0.14 a share. On average, analysts had projected net income of US$0.17. A year earlier, net income was US$218 million, or US$0.17. Revenue fell 16 percent.

Applied Materials earnings on equipment to chipmakers across the semiconductor industry are a broad indicator of future demand.

Investors also look at the company’s forecasts as a gauge of confidence at its largest customers.

Last month, Applied Materials repeated a prediction that the total market for machines used to make semiconductors will be US$27 billion to US$30 billion this year.

Splinter, 62, has been CEO of Applied Materials since 2003. Under his leadership, the company has branched out into machinery that makes flat-panel displays and solar panels.

Dickerson, 56, will take over the top job at Applied Materials on Sept. 1 and join the board, the company said in a separate statement. He will retain the role of president, which he took on last year. He joined Applied Materials in 2011 with the acquisition of Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc.

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