Novellus ( NVLS) bumped up the low-end of its projected range of orders for the current quarter but let its existing revenue and earnings guidance stand.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company, which produces equipment for manufacturing semiconductors, narrowed the range of its first-quarter bookings to 14% to 20% sequential growth, vs. its earlier guidance of 10% to 20%.

The new range would represent orders between $400 million and $420 million.

The company maintained the $345 million to $355 million sales guidance it issued in January, which represents a 4% to 7% sequential growth rate.

Novellus also stuck to its 18 cents to 21 cents EPS forecast, including stock-option compensation expenses, and 45% gross margin targets.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call on average expect the company to earn 21 cents a share on revenue of $352.6 million.

Consumer electronics -- particularly demand for NAND flash -- is driving demand for Novellus' chipmaking equipment, said CEO Richard Hill.

"With the advent of NAND flash, we're seeing an explosion of applications of semiconductors that's pretty difficult to predict," said Hill.

Consequently he said, chipmakers cannot afford to be caught without enough manufacturing capacity.

"So clearly there is some anticipation of continued strong growth in the NAND market, and I think it's well founded," Hill said.

The increasingly important role of consumer electronics within the semiconductor market is also influencing buying patterns, Novellus executives said.

Customers are buying more chipmaking equipment in the first half of the year to prepare for the strong shopping season at the end of the year.

"We see more predictability in the cyclicality," said sales and marketing executive vice president Tom Caulfield.

Shares of Novellus, which closed down 1.51%, or 42 cents at $27.35, were unchanged in extended trading.