Novellus Shares Dip Despite Good Quarter

Updated from April 12

Shares of chip-equipment maker Novellus Systems ( NVLS) dipped Tuesday although the company offered a chipper forecast for the second quarter while delivering first-quarter results that beat Wall Street sales and earnings expectations.

After trading as high as $35.20 early on, Novellus shares closed at $33.64, down $1, or 2.89%.

Although some analysts have suggested the pace of growth could start to slow for equipment makers, Novellus management was resolutely bullish. "We see capacity expansion going on in every single region of the globe, which we haven't seen in quite a while," said chief executive officer Rick Hill on a post-close conference call Monday evening.

"There was a false upturn last year in the first quarter that was largely attributable to an increase in Asia," he continued. "But it is much more broad-based today than it was a year ago and looks to be sustainable barring any geopolitical issues that might affect it."

First-quarter sales at Novellus rose 10.3% from last year's levels to $262.9 million, above the consensus estimate of $253.2 million.

Net income totaled $16.7 million, reflecting a $2.5 million pretax litigation settlement. That's up from a profit of $11.9 million for the same quarter last year.

On a per-share basis, profit amounted to 11 cents a share, up from 8 cents.

Excluding the litigation charge, net income per share was 12 cents, 2 pennies ahead of the average analyst estimate compiled by Thomson First Call.

Shipments were $311 million, up 36.3% from the prior quarter.

"We experienced another strong quarter in operating results and bookings, as our success in 300 millimeter continues to propel our business," Hill said in a prepared statement.

On a post-close conference call, Novellus management guided for revenues of $305 million to $325 million for the quarter ending in June, well above the consensus estimate for $292.4 million.

EPS should total between 18 cents and 20 cents a share, compared to the current estimate for 18 cents.

Net bookings should fall in the range of $375 million to $390 million, up 8% to 13% from the prior quarter.

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