Applied Materials (AMAT), on the other hand, hasn't been showing quite as much relative strength recently. The $13 billion semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker lowered its 2012 outlook last week, sending shares down around 5% in the past five trading days -- but with disappointment priced into shares this week, now could be a good time to buy AMAT.
Applied makes the tools that microchip manufacturers use to make chips. As the industry leader, the firm's tools are used by more chipmakers than any others. That's a big advantage, especially when its fabrication tools save enough cost to justify factory upgrades. The firm's big investments in the solar business have made it a big player there too, but with one big problem: Both chipmaking and solar are cyclical businesses. That means that when it rains, it pours for AMAT.Still, the firm is the biggest player in the industry, and it's got a deep and well established economic moat. That means that once the semiconductor waiting game is over, AMAT should be able to deliver impressive numbers once again. Shares are currently nearing support at $10. A bounce off of that level may well be in order this week.
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