Merrill, Lehman cut Orbotech forecasts but LB analyst retains Buy rating

Q3 results were slightly better than expected, but the industry is slowing
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By Albert Robinson

Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers both cut their estimates for Orbotech (Nasdaq:ORBK) even though the company beat forecasts for the third quarter.

Merrill Lynch said on Tuesday it was reducing its earnings per share forecast for Orbotech due to weakness in the printed circuit board and electronics industries, despite the company's slightly better than expected third quarter results, reported on Monday.

Analyst Ilana Treston lowered her estimate for the fourth quarter of 2001 from 5 cents per share to1 cent, and for 2002, from $1.05 to 76 cents.

She wrote that improvement in the market was not expected until the second half of next year "at the earliest".

Lehman meanwhile reduced its price target for Israel's Orbotech Ltd to $27 from $32, due to the persistent slowdown in the electronics industry.

It also lowered its EPS estimate for the final quarter of 2001 to one cent from four cents and to 55 cents from $1.40 for next year.

"We remain cautious on the shares in the near term due to continued poor visibility," analyst Edward White wrote in a report. But he maintained his 2-Buy rating for the share.

Shares in Orbotech, a maker of automated optical inspection systems for printed circuit boards and flat panel displays, closed up 9 cents at $23.85 on Nasdaq on Monday.