Lam Research's CEO Discusses Q3 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Lam Research (LRCX)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

April 18, 2012 5:00 pm ET

Executives

Shanye Hudson - Director of Investor Relations

Ernest E. Maddock - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer, Senior Vice President and Head of Silfex Incorporated

Martin B. Anstice - Chief Executive Officer, President, Chief Operating Officer and Director

Analysts

Satya Kumar - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

James Covello - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Stephen Chin - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Vishal Shah - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Christopher J. Muse - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Christopher Blansett - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Terence R. Whalen - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC, Research Division

Patrick J. Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Mark Heller - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Research Division

Krish Sankar - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Jagadish K. Iyer - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

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

Weston Twigg - Pacific Crest Securities, Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to that Lam Research Corporation March 2012 Quarterly Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Ms. Shanye Hudson, Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Shanye Hudson

Thank you, Camille. Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to Lam Research Corporation's quarterly conference call. With me today are Martin Anstice, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Ernie Maddock, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Shortly, Ernie will discuss financial results for the March 2012 quarter. Martin will then share Lam's business outlook for the June 2012 quarter before opening up the call for Q&A. The press release detailing our financial results was distributed over the wire services shortly after 1 p.m. this afternoon and is also available on our website at lamresearch.com.

Today's call contains certain forward-looking statements, including those related to our expectations for the global macroeconomic environment of market size; wafer fab equipment spending; market share changes; consumer demand, customer spending and behavior and the factors that will influence those expectations, as well as our spending projections; our investment plans; our business strategies; our aspirations of the benefits of our planned merger with Novellus; our intentions for research and development activities; our contemplated tax rate and our forecast of market share, shipments, revenues, expenses, margins, operating profit, share repurchase activities, earnings per share and cash generation on both a GAAP and a non-GAAP basis, as well as other statements of the company's expectations, beliefs and plans.

There are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in these forward-looking statements, and a list of those factors can be found in the slide package accompanying this conference call and on our most recent Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All forward-looking statements are based on current information, and the company assumes no obligation to update any of them. This call is scheduled to last until 3:00 p.m. [Operator Instructions]

With that, I'll turn the call over to you, Ernie.

Ernest E. Maddock

Thank you, Shanye, and good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining the call. The March quarter represented a solid start to the calendar year as Lam shipments, revenue, gross margin, operating margin and EPS results met or exceeded the midpoint of our guidance ranges. Relative to these specifics, shipments for the quarter were approximately $713 million, up 27% from the December quarter and indicative of improving customer demand across all product lines and most notably, in the foundry space.

The breakdown by application and market segment was as follows. Applications for the 4x technology node and below represented 91% of overall system shipments, and the memory segment accounted for 40% of all systems shipments, with NAND at 30% and DRAM at 10%. Foundry accounted for 53% of overall system shipments, while logic and other constituted the balance of 7%.

March quarter revenues came in at the high end of our guidance range at $659 million, up 13% over the prior quarter. Non-GAAP gross margin was at 40.9%, up sequentially from 40.1% and is consistent with our expectations of customer concentration and mix, offsetting improvements in factory utilization from the increased business levels.

As planned, non-GAAP operating expenses for the quarter increased to approximately $197 million versus $180 million in the December quarter. More than 70% of this incremental spend was focused on next-generation R&D and the customer-facing activity that surround and support it. The balance of the operating expense change was attributable to higher variable compensation expenses associated with higher profit levels, as well as expenses related to market appreciation of deferred compensation plan assets.

Lam intends to mitigate overall exposure relative to market fluctuations impacting these plans, and this quarter is no exception. The increased operating expenses related to these plans were substantively offset by increased income in other income and expense.

As we indicated on our last call, we remain committed to keeping Lam standalone operating expenses at or below $200 million per quarter. Non-GAAP operating income was $73 million versus $54 million in the December quarter and resulted in a non-GAAP operating margin of 11.1%, slightly better than the midpoint of our guidance range. Our non-GAAP tax rate for the March quarter was 20.4% compared to 21.8% in the prior quarter.

On a Lam standalone basis, we estimate the June quarter tax rate to be in the mid-teen, bringing our fiscal year non-GAAP tax rate to around 20%. This rate would be favorably impacted by approximately 2% should Congress extend the federal R&D tax credit prior to the end of our fiscal year.

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