Applied Materials Shares Dive Afterhours on Bleak Outlook

Top U.S. provider of semiconductor manufacturing equipment Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) revealed late Tuesday a stronger-than-expected 85% improvement in second-quarter profit, though its outlook slid below estimates as customers continue to put orders on hold.

The company anticipates non-GAAP earnings for the third-quarter in the range of 31 cents to 37 cents a share, with sales down 3% to 10%, sequentially. The outlook reflects expected order delays, which have been occurring since the March 11 earthquake in Japan.

The forecast, which also includes the potential cost of long-term financing related to the planned buy of Varian Semiconductor, are below Wall Street’s current view of 37 cents a share on sales of $2.79 billion.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based supplier of chip making equipment posted second-quarter net income of $489 million, or 37 cents a share, compared with $264 million, or 22 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time restructuring and acquisition costs, the company earned 38 cents a share, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 37 cents.

Revenue for the three months ended May 1 was $2.86 billion, up 25% from $2.3 billion a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $2.79 billion.

“Applied delivered one of the best quarters in the company's history, including record net sales in our solar business,” Applied CEO Mike Splinter said in a statement. “While near-term economic conditions have tempered our growth expectations, our outlook for the year remains strong driven by our customers' plans to invest in the advanced technologies needed to meet growing demand for mobile devices and consumer electronics.”

Fueling the sales were 7% and 9% sequential gains in its silicon systems and applied global services segments, respectively, and a whopping 80% improvement from last quarter in its display orders, due to growth in demand for touch panels and advanced mobile displays.

Offsetting the gains was an 8% drop to $612 million in its energy and environmental solutions unit, Applied’s second largest segment by revenue.