Chip equipment maker Novellus Systems ( NVLS) on Monday said it earned 62 cents a share in the first quarter excluding certain items, beating analysts' expectations. According to Thomson Financial/First Call, analysts had expected earnings of 61 cents a share. The San Jose, Calif., maker of equipment used in semiconductor fabrication said that including a $13.2 million charge for merger-related costs, earnings per share were 55 cents. A year earlier the company earned 17 cents a share and it earned 68 cents a share in the fourth quarter. Revenue, meanwhile, rose to $458.7 million in the first quarter from $220 million a year earlier and from $442.7 million in the fourth quarter. Despite these results, Novellus said in a statement that it was a tough quarter due to the decline in spending by the semiconductor companies that have seen demand for their own products decline, decreasing their need and desire for more equipment. Richard Hill, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement that the first quarter showed a global slowdown in chip equipment spending, and he described it as "the most rapid decline we have seen in this industry." During a conference call, the company said that second quarter earnings would total 40 cents a share on revenue of $379 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 39 cents a share, according to First Call.
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