* Adjusted EPS below estimate
* Investors looking for rebound in gear orders
* Chip companies scaled back orders due to economy
By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - KLA-Tencor Corp posted fiscal first-quarter revenue below expectations as chipmakers, worried about the economy, held off on new orders of manufacturing equipment.
With dwindling demand for PCs, Intel and memory chipmakers have been scaling back investment plans for new technology and manufacturing capacity, and Wall Street is trying to determine when orders for new gear will begin to pick up.
“I think we’re probably pretty close to the bottom,” said RBC analyst Mahesh Sanganeria. “We could start seeing orders recovering this quarter and it could continue from there.”
Booming sales of smartphones and tablets have fueled the chip industry in recent years. But even chipmakers focusing on those devices have been hurt by macroeconomic uncertainty.
KLA-Tencor said first-quarter revenue was $721 million, compared with $796 million in the year-ago period.
Analysts were expecting first-quarter revenue of $740 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
KLA-Tencor’s products help measure the effectiveness of complicated manufacturing processes and reduce defects, essential for chipmakers implementing challenging new technologies.
Research firm Gartner said this month that worldwide industry spending on chip equipment would slow in 2013 because of deteriorating economies.
Earlier on Thursday, top contract chipmaker TSMC forecast two quarters of weaker revenue but said demand for mobile devices would fuel a rebound from April.
Facing lower-than-expected demand for its PC processors, top chipmaker Intel is running its fabrication plants at less than 50 percent capacity, redirecting unused space and equipment to be used on more cutting-edge production lines still being built.
KLA-Tencor said quarterly net income totaled $135 million, or 80 cents a share, down from $192 million, or $1.13 a share, in the year-ago quarter.
Non-GAAP earnings per share were 84 cents. Analysts on average expected earnings per share of 89 cents.
The company’s shares edged down 0.21 percent in extended trading after closing 0.02 percent higher at $47.14 on Nasdaq.