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Semiconductor-equipment maker

Novellus Systems


affirmed its fourth-quarter outlook Tuesday, saying it doesn't foresee any material economic changes and that business levels are flat.

The San Jose-Calif.-based company said it expects to post a fourth-quarter net profit of 11 cents a share, which would match Wall Street estimates, before a $1.7 million charge related to its acquisition of


, a deal that is expected to close on Dec. 6. With the charge, Novellus expects fourth-quarter earnings of 9 cents per share. EPS for the combined entity of Novellus and Speedfam will be 7 cents a share, excluding the charge.

Total revenue for the quarter, which is driven largely by a few customers, is expected to come in at $211 million, in line with estimates and with the company's forecast of last month. In the year-ago quarter, the company earned 12 cents a share on $200 million in revenue. In a prepared statement, the company said net bookings have "firmed" and are targeted at $200 million to $210 million, up approximately 5% from previous expectations.

In October, Novellus said it expected orders to come in flat to down 10% for the December quarter. Some of its peers in the equipment sector are bracing for worse, with

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guiding for bookings to drop 20%.

"Business levels are flat, with improving profitability due to cost containment," CEO Richard Hill said on its conference call. "Whether you look at the U.S., Asia, Europe or Japan, the overall economic conditions are tentative, and as a result, there are very conservative investment scenarios being played out by our customers."

The company also said that it has not seen significant cancellations or any need to reduce backlog.

The shares were up 87 cents, or 2.5%, at $35.35 in recent trading on Instinet. Since hitting a 52-week high of $54.48 in March, the stock is down about 30%.