Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

, which produces equipment for making microchips, reported Wednesday that its earnings more than tripled, matching Wall Street's forecasts.

The earnings announcement was made after the stock market closed. Applied Materials shares ended regular trading down 6, or 7%, at 84 5/8 following a broad selloff of technology stocks on the

Nasdaq

stock market. According to

Instinet

, Applied Materials was down 7 2/8 to 77 3/8 in heavy after-hours trading.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said that excluding one-time items, it earned $454 million, or 55 cents a diluted share, in its second fiscal quarter ended April 30, compared with $140 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had projected earnings of 55 cents a share in the latest quarter, though some analysts expected the company to beat estimates.

Applied Materials said its sales rose 87%, to $2.19 billion, from $1.72 billion in the 1999 quarter. It also said new equipment orders doubled, to $2.93 billion.

"We are in a major industry upturn and expect strong demand to continue for semiconductor devices that enable Internet-related, telecommunications and consumer products," said James Morgan, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

Last week, Applied Materials said sales in Singapore and Malaysia may more than double to as much as $800 million in the next year as chip-making factories increase production to meet demand for chips for phones, cars and electronic games.

In the near term, Applied Materials will also likely benefit from its relationship with

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

, the world's biggest chipmaker, which said last month that it intended to spend some $6 billion this year to increase its chip production capacity amid rising global demand for computer chips.

As a whole, the semiconductor industry is enjoying robust growth. On Tuesday, an industry group

said sales of the chips that power computers, electronic devices and cellular telephones had risen 33.8% in March, to $14.96 billion, from $11.18 billion a year earlier. The company indicated that it expected growth in the semiconductor industry to continue to accelerate.