Applied Materials forecasts strong quarter as orders pick up
(Reuters) - Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O), the world's largest chip gear maker, posted better-than-expected quarterly results driven by the popularity of smartphones and tablets, and forecast earnings ahead of analysts' estimates for the current quarter.
The company forecast second-quarter earnings within a range of 9 cents to 15 cents per share. It said revenue could rise 15 percent to 25 percent from the first quarter, which would translate to between $1.8 billion and $1.96 billion.
Analysts were expecting the company to earn 11 cents per share, on revenue of $1.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Santa Clara-based Applied Materials provides manufacturing equipment, services and software to the global semiconductor, flat panel display, solar photovoltaic and related industries.
The company expects to gain from an increase in capital expenditure this year by the chipmakers that buy its products, President Gary Dickerson told Reuters.
In January, Intel Corp (INTC.O) projected this year's capital spending at $13 billion, plus or minus $500 million, exceeding many analysts' estimates of about $10 billion.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) (2330.TW), the world's biggest contract chipmaker, is also planning to raise its capital expenditure to $9 billion this year from $8.3 billion in 2012.
In the first quarter, Taiwan accounted for 43 percent of Applied Materials' total new orders of $2.1 billion, up from 27 percent in the preceding three months.
These new orders were driven largely by TSMC, Morningstar Inc analyst Andy Ng said, as the Taiwanese company is spending more in the first half of the year.
Taiwanese media have reported that Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has been considering moving production of some of its processors to TSMC from Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS) in order to become less reliant on its most direct rival in the smartphone market.
"What is happening is that there is some shifting relative to what is going on between Apple and Samsung that's really causing a large increase in orders from the Taiwanese customers," Dickerson said.
In the first quarter ended January 27, Applied Materials' net income fell to $34 million, or 3 cents per share, from $117 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items the company earned 6 cents per share.
Revenue fell 28 percent to $1.57 billion.
Analysts had expected the company to earn 3 cents per share, excluding items, on revenue of $1.55 billion.
Orders for the company's semiconductor products rose 84 percent, driven by increased demand in foundry and memory. The business accounted for about 86 percent of its total revenue in the first quarter.
Applied Materials' shares rose 5 percent after closing at $13.77 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.
(Editing by Don Sebastian and Robin Paxton)