Falling memory prices and the delay of Microsoft's ( MSFT) Vista operating system will dent spending on chipmaking equipment this year, according to a pair of reports from Wall Street financial firms released Friday. The reports add more uncertainty to an industry in which slowing PC sales and changing business practices among semiconductor manufacturers have clouded long-term visibility. "The strong euphoria that existed in late January and early February has disappeared," Moors & Cabot analyst Shekhar Pramanick wrote in a note to investors. With prices for NAND flash chips rapidly falling, Pramanick said that many memory chipmakers may push back their spending on manufacturing equipment. He pointed to Hynix Semiconductor as a prime example, citing the company's recent decision to delay the start of production at a chip-manufacturing facility in China by about three months. "While the company is blaming longer than expected construction for the delay, it is important to note that this announcement comes just days after Hynix stated that it expected NAND flash prices to drop 25% in 1Q06, vs. previous expectations of a 20% drop," wrote Pramanick Though NAND flash memory chips have been one of the semiconductor industry's strongest segments, Pramanick said a lack of major demand drivers in the first half of the year, combined with the delay of Vista, means that "the risk of memory capex cuts in 2H06 is significantly higher than in 2005." The companies most exposed to a slowdown in memory spending are Novellus ( NVLS) and LAM Research ( LRCX), said Pramanick. But Pramanick, whose company does not have investing relationships with any of the stocks mentioned, said that none of the big semiconductor equipment companies is immune to the effects of potential reductions in capital spending. Shares of Novellus were up 1%, or 25 cents, at $24.57 in trading Friday. LAM Research shares were up 2.3%, or 98 cents, at $43.61.