* Company expects pickup in orders
* 2013 seen as slower than 2012
* Fourth-quarter adjusted EPS beats Street
By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Top chip gear-maker Applied Materials forecast current-quarter revenues below expectations as it struggles with a slowdown in spending on chip manufacturing equipment and troubles at its solar and display groups.
Chief Executive Mike Splinter told analysts on a conference call he expects a pickup in orders entering 2013 but also warned next year would see less spending than in 2012 by contract chipmakers, memory chipmakers makers and PC processor leader Intel.
Chipmakers worried about the global economy and wrestling with declining PC sales have been spending less on new manufacturing equipment sold by Applied Materials.
“Soft macroeconomic conditions combined with the timing of Windows 8 resulted in subdued back-to-school PC sales and we expect negative PC growth for the calendar year. As a result, we are tempering our expectations for logic spending in 2013,” he said.
While orders for wafer fabrication equipment are expected to pick up from a lull in recent months, spending next year will still be between 5 percent and 15 percent lower than in 2012, he said.
Applied Materials said it would take additional steps to cut costs in its struggling solar panel manufacturing gear business.
Last month, the Santa Clara, California company said it would cut its workforce by 6 percent to 9 percent and it has also been reviewing the viability of its solar panel business and its display business, which has also been weak.
Applied Materials posted fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $1.65 billion, down from $2.18 billion in the year-ago period.
It said its expects revenue in the current quarter to be flat to down 15 percent from the fourth quarter. The midpoint of that range is about $1.526 billion.
Analysts had expected fourth-quarter revenue of $1.576 billion and fiscal first-quarter 2013 revenue of $1.750 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Applied Materials said it had a net loss for the quarter ended in October of $515 million, or 42 cents a share, versus net income of $456 million, or 34 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.
The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 6 cents, compared to 3 cents expected by analysts.
Shares of Applied Materials rose 1.45 percent in extended trade after closing down 0.58 percent at $10.30.