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Novellus Warns Over Weak Consumer Spending

Chip-equipment company Novellus Systems (NVLS) warned Thursday that third-quarter results would fall below the company's earlier guidance.

CEO Richard Hill said revenue for the September quarter would be $230 million, as opposed to earlier guidance of $250 million. The revenue drop was due to push-outs in orders from two Asian customers, Hill said.

Shipments for the quarter would drop to $245 million from earlier guidance of $260 million. Orders during the quarter were likely to go as low as $200 million to $220 million, when they were projected for up to $250 million, Hill said.

The revenue drop would take an estimated 2 cents off earnings per share, leaving the company at break-even in net income, Hill said. He said Novellus would make 10 cents per share before one-time charges. Analysts estimates as gathered by Thomson Financial/First Call were for $251.14 million in revenue and 10 cents per share in earnings.

On the positive side, Hill said his company has seen a slight uptick this quarter in corporate IT spending, the kick-start that the tech industry has desired. Unfortunately, Hill said, a slowdown in consumer spending "has more than offset the IT" pickup.

Hill also said semiconductor companies are struggling with a scarcity in capital, and there is a "cutback in capital expenditures by major companies in the industry."

The weakness in the consumer front was well-known, as Hewlett-Packard told analysts on Tuesday. And today, UBS Warburg cut the rating on Novellus and other chip companies due to slowing consumer demand for semiconductors.

Novellus still gained slightly in trading, up 11 cents, or 0.5%, to $24.29. In after-hours trading shares were down 2.1%.

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