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Lam Research Corp. (LRCX - Get Report) shares surged Thursday after the semiconductor services company posted stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings and guided for near-term sales that suggest a potential upturn in activity for global chipmakers. 

Lam Research said earnings for the three months ending in December, the company's fiscal second quarter, came in at $3.87 per share, down 10.8% from the same period last year but firmly ahead of the consensus forecast of $3.67. Group revenues also slipped from the second quarter of last year, to $2.52 billion, but again topped the Street forecast. The company also said it would buyback $5 billion worth of shares that it will pay for in either cash or new debt.

"2019 is shaping up to be another solid year for our customer support business group and our progress remains aligned with the long-term growth objectives communicated to the investment community early last year," CEO Tim Archer told investors on a conference call late Wednesday. "The business environment is more challenging than just a few quarters ago, but we are committed to delivering on our multidimensional growth strategy and at the same time responding to near-term revenue trends through a strong focus on operational efficiency."

Lam Research closed up 15.7% to $161.20 Thursday.

Looking ahead, Lam Research sees current quarter revenues in the region of $2.4 billion and adjusted earnings of $3.40 per share, plus or minus 20 cents, with Archer adding "we are still in the early stages of a long-term secular growth story for the industry and particularly for Lam."

"We're a little more optimistic than Lam Research," said KeyBanc Capital Markets Weston Twigg. "We think memory companies will increase spending in 2H amid likely bit supply shortages and stable pricing (based on our memory supply forecast); either way, it's likely just a matter of timing, as Lam Research maintains a robust market position among memory customers."