NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mattson Technology ( MTSN) slashed its financial outlook for the fourth quarter late Tuesday, citing shipment delays that weighed on margins and drained its cash.

"While the overall semiconductor industry has continued its recovery, there have been some soft spots, such as DRAM dynamic random access memory , which have negatively impacted our continued growth and flattened our business in the fourth quarter as DRAM customers delayed orders," said David Dutton, the president and CEO of Fremont, Calif.-based Mattson, in a statement.

Mattson now expects revenue of $41 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. The company forecast revenue within a range of $46 million to $50 million in late October and the current average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for revenue of $49.1 million in the quarter.

The company didn't provide a specific per share loss view but rather said it expects its loss for the December period to be "significantly greater" than its prior forecast for between breakeven results and a loss of 4 cents a share. Wall Street's consensus estimate is for a loss of a penny per share in the quarter.

The cash balance at quarter's end is projected at $24 million vs. its outlook of $30 million to $33 million. Mattson explained the decline in cash and cash equivalents by saying it had already used its monies to buy inventory and complete the manufacturing of the tools that ended up being delayed.

" W e are responding to the delays in tools for DRAM customers, which were suffered throughout the DRAM market, by strengthening our operating expense controls as well as modifying our planning for 2011," Dutton said. "While we continue to closely monitor our cash position, we are confident that cash will recover as we ship the tool sets we have in inventory and collect our outstanding accounts receivable."

Investor response to the news was swift as Mattson shares were last quoted at $2.41, down 16.4%, on volume of nearly 125,000. The stock gained more than 15% in 2010 but finished the year well below a 52-week high of $5.52 reached in mid-April. The shares have limited coverage on Wall Street but four of the five analysts rating the stock were bullish, coming in at strong buy (3) or buy (1).

The news may have also pulled down much larger competitor Novellus Systems ( NVLS), which also makes capital equipment for semiconductor companies, in late trades. Novellus shares ticked 1.8% lower after the closing bell to $30.95 on volume of a little less than 50,000.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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