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After the bell Thursday, chip equipment maker



substantially boosted its forecast for revenue and earnings for the quarter ending in June.

Citing improved bookings, Novellus said it expects revenue of $325 million to $335 million, up from its earlier forecast of $305 million to $325 million, issued on April 12.

Earnings should fall between 25 cents and 27 cents, before a one-time charge of $6 million for in-process R&D write-off from a recent acquisition.

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In April, Novellus was expecting earnings of 18 cents to 20 cents a share.

The consensus estimate assumed June quarter revenue of $319 million with EPS of 21 cents, according to Thomson First Call.

The company said bookings should range from $380 million to $390 million, but could possibly go over $400 million if certain orders are completed within the second quarter.

Chief executive officer Rick Hill said business is very good and continues to improve steadily, with particular strength in Asia, Japan and Korea, as well as the U.S.

Explaining rising demand for his company's equipment, he pointed to industry plans to construct more 300-millimeter fabs, and increase capacity to crank out dynamic random access memory chips and a popular flavor of flash memory, as well as intentions to increase foundry capacity to keep pace with rising purchases of semiconductor chips.

After the bell, the shares rose $1.05, or 3.4%, to $32.43, reversing a loss of 3 cents in regular trading on Thursday.