Chip equipment maker Novellus (NVLS) was up 16.8% in midmorning after it posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat the Street's expectations, but said it expects orders to drop in 2001. Merill Lynch cut its earnings estimates for the company and Prudential maintained its accumulate rating. But ABN Amro upgraded it to buy from add. Other chip equipment stocks were sharply higher. KLA-Tencor (KLAC) - Get KLA Corporation (KLAC) Report was up 16.6%. Applied Materials (AMAT) - Get Applied Materials, Inc. Report was up 10.2%.

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