Novellus Systems' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Novellus Systems (NVLS)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 02, 2012 4:30 pm ET


Robin S. Yim - Former Vice President of Investor Relations

John D. Hertz - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Vice President and Corporate Controller

Richard Hill - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Timothy M. Archer - Chief Operating Officer


Mahesh Sanganeria - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Christopher Blansett - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Vishal Shah - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Thomas Diffely - D.A. Davidson & Co., Research Division

Christopher J. Muse - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Satya Kumar - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

James Covello - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC, Research Division

Terence R. Whalen - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company, Inc., Research Division

Eliot Glazer



Good day, and welcome to Novellus Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2011 Earnings Release Conference Call. As a reminder, this call is being recorded today, Thursday, February 2, 2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Ms. Robin Yim of Novellus Systems. Please go ahead.

Robin S. Yim

Thank you, Robert. Good afternoon, and thank you for joining the Novellus Systems' Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2011 Earnings Conference Call. Joining me on the call today are Rick Hill, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Tim Archer, Chief Operating Officer; and John Hertz, Chief Financial Officer.

Financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011 were released by Marketwire shortly after 1 p.m. Pacific Time. You can obtain a copy of the news release in the Investor Relations section of our website at

Today's earnings call contains forward-looking statements about Novellus' business outlook, the pending merger with Lam Research, our products and forecasts of key metrics for the first quarter of 2012. Specific forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, our expectations and beliefs as to various factors, demand drivers and demand drivers that are fueling the current cycle, the value and productivity of our product, the forecasted new bookings and shipment volumes, revenue, gross margins and earnings per share target for the first quarter of 2012, and our tax rate for the first quarter of 2012 and any other unanticipated future event.

We caution you that forward-looking statements are projections and expectations regarding future events. They involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results contemplated, including an inaccurate basis for our financial forecast. Information concerning risks that could cause actual results to differ materially is contained in today's press release and our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Form 10-K for fiscal 2010 and our subsequent filings on forms 10-Q and 8-K. Forward-looking statements are based on information as of today, and we assume no obligation to update these statements.

During our call today, we will make references to non-GAAP financial measures, which exclude certain charges, benefits and other items, which are detailed in our earnings release. For a reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP financial measures, please refer to our earnings release and our Form 8-K furnished to the SEC today. We do not provide a reconciliation of the forward-looking non-GAAP to GAAP measures because of our inability to project certain charges, cost and expenses.

John Hertz will begin today's call with a review of the financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2011. Rick Hill will provide an overview of the business environment and guidance for the first quarter of 2012, and then we'll open up the call for our question-and-answer session. Now I'd like to turn the call over to John.

John D. Hertz

Thank you, Robin. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining our call today. We're happy to report that we closed an overall strong 2011 with solid financial performance in the fourth quarter. For the year, despite semi cap equipment spending being down 19% in the second half of 2011 versus the first half, we delivered $1.4 billion in revenue and record EPS of $3.20 per share, that's versus $2.79 per share in 2010 on flat year-over-year revenue.

We generated $363 million in cash flow from operations, which is 27% of revenue. In addition, we returned $976 million to our shareholders in 2011 through our stock repurchase program at an average price of $34.21. And related to the share repurchases, we improved our capital structure through the issuance of $700 million and 30-year convertible securities with a 2 5/8% coupon.

Now turning specifically to the fourth quarter. Net bookings for the fourth quarter came in at $287 million, that is up 26% versus the third quarter and just above the midpoint of our revised guidance range of up 20% to 30%. We saw order strength from both foundry and logic customers.

Fourth quarter shipments were $277 million, that's down 8% versus the third quarter and at the low end of our guidance range, up $270 million to $300 million. With shipment outpacing bookings for most of 2011, our year-end backlog decreased by 27% to $228 million at the end of 2011.

Fourth quarter revenues were $283 million, that's down 8% from the September quarter and just above the midpoint of our guidance range of $260 million to $290 million. The fourth quarter revenues by geographic region were as follows: United States, 35%; Greater China, 27%; Korea, 20%; Japan, 6%; Europe, 12%. Fourth quarter gross margin was 46.8%. It's down from 48.2% in the third quarter as expected but at high end of our guidance range of 46% plus or minus 1 point.

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