半导体设备行业的寒冬,需要晶圆厂来温暖

上网时间: 2011年11月10日? 作者:Dylan McGrath? 我来评论 【字号: ? ?小】

关键字:半导体设备? 28纳米制程?

Downturn drags on chip equipment sales

Dylan McGrath

SAN FRANCISCO—As expected, semiconductor equipment suppliers that posted quarterly results this week—including KLA-Tencor Corp., Novellus Systems Inc. and Teradyne Inc.—reported declines in sales and they expect more of the same in the fourth quarter. But they generally singled out investments by foundries in 32- and 28-nm process technologies as a pocket of strength.

Meanwhile, EDA vendor Cadence Design Systems Inc. reported a third quarter increase in sales and said it expects further increase in the fourth quarter. The relatively strong Cadence results—an anomaly in the semiconductor industry these days—may be partially attributed to accounting methods and licensing contracts, which generally cause EDA sales to be less volatile than those of semiconductor firms and capital equipment suppliers.

KLA (Milpitas, Calif.) reported sales of $796 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down 11 percent from the previous quarter but up 17 percent from the year-ago quarter. KLA reported a net income of $192 million, or $1.13 per diluted share, down 22 percent from the previous quarter but up 25 percent from the year-ago quarter.

KLA's third quarter sales exceeded consensus analysts' expectations of about $792 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

Rich Wallace, KLA's president and CEO, said in a conference call with analysts following the company's report that persistent economic weakness compounded normal cyclicality in the semiconductor industry, leading customers to scale back or delay planned capacity expansion. New orders for KLA declined 43 percent sequentially during the quarter to $486 million, Wallace said.

Wallace said KLA is seeing strong demand for tools for 28-nm process technology. Chip builders are investing to overcome challenges to yield at that node, he said. KLA is scrambling to meet demand for some of its leading-edge technology products from multiple foundries, he said. "Right now, it looks very good," Wallace said.

Foundries accounted for 57 percent of KLA's new orders during the quarter, and Wallace said the company expects growth in orders from foundries to continue during the current quarter. Foundry demand is being lead by market leaders ramping up their 28-nm process technology, Wallace said.

KLA said it expects sales for the current quarter to fall to between $600 million and $650 million, a steep decline of between 18 and 25 percent. The company said it expects bookings for the quarter to improve by between 25 percent and 45 percent. KLA said it expects revenue growth to improve in the calendar first quarter of 2012.

KLA's guidance came in well short of consensus analysts' expectations of about $710 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

Wallace said KLA is hopeful that memory suppliers will soon being to increase capacity investments. "We do see hope for memory, but we didn't see much action," Wallace said. It’s more talk and less action right now at this point in terms of investment."

Christopher Muse, an analyst with Barclays Capital, said he and fellow analysts were surprised by the magnitude of the increased foundry spending expected, but added that he has been expecting all along that foundry investment in 28- and 32-nm technologies would be a beacon of strong business in the downturn.

Novellus, Teradyne, Cadence

Novellus (San Jose, Calif.) reported sales of $306.7 million for the quarter ended Sept. 24, down 12 percent from the previous quarter and down 17 percent from the year-ago quarter. Novellus said its net income for the third quarter was $51.1 million, or 73 cents per share, a decline of $13.6 million from the second quarter and a decline of $25.2 million from the third quarter of 2010.

Novellus said its third quarter bookings decline to $226.9 million, down 27 percent from the previous quarter. Shipments amounted to $301.6 million, down 16.1 percent from the second quarter, Novellus said.

"The current global market volatility has affected capital intensive business investment but we are optimistic that the underlying demand for technology products will enable us to profitably ride through this period of uncertainty," said Richard Hill, Novellus chairman and CEO, in a statement.

"Specific to Novellus, we see continued uncertainty regarding the true opportunity in adjacent markets and gross margin headwinds from the Industrial business, with the main source of EPS upside coming from buybacks," Muse said.

Automated test equipment supplier Teradyne (North Reading, Mass.) reported third quarter sales of $344 million, down 16 percent from the previous quarter and down 30 percent from the third quarter of 2010. Teradyne reported a GAAP net income of about $192 million, or $1.15 per share, up 25 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.

Teradyne reported bookings of $240 million in the third quarter, $196 million from semiconductor test and $44 million from its system test group. The company did not say how the bookings compared with previous quarters.

"Semiconductor test orders and revenue softened in line with industry trends during the quarter, but we continued to see relative strength in the mobility segments driven by power management, image sensors, wireless and mobile processors," said Mike Bradley, Teradyne president and CEO, in a statement.

Teradyne said it expects sales to further decline in the fourth quarter to between $270 million and $300 million. Teradyne's fourth quarter guidance was generally in line with consensus analysts' expectations, according to Yahoo Finance.

Cadence (San Jose, Calif.) reported third quarter sales of $292 million, an increase of 23 percent compared to the third quarter of 2010. The company recognized a net income for the quarter of $28 million, or 10 cents per share, down from $127 million and 48 cents per share in the year ago quarter, when the company's results were boosted by a tax settlement.

Cadence's third quarter sales exceeded consensus analysts' of about $285 million and the company's non-GAAP earnings of 14 cents per share exceeded consensus analysts' expectations of 12 cents per share, according to Yahoo Finance.

Cadence and other EDA vendors recognize revenue over the life of a contract, not at the time of sale. EDA revenues tend to lag semiconductor industry upturns and downturns by several months.

"Strong design activity in multiple market segments continues to drive demand for our products and solutions," said Lip-Bu Tan, Cadence president and CEO, in a statement.

Cadence said it expects its revenue to grow in the fourth quarter to between $295 million and $305 million. The company said it expects its fourth quarter net income to be between 8 and 10 cents per share. For the full year, Cadence said it expects sales to be between $1.135 billion and $1.145 billion. The company said it expects to report an income for the year of 31 to 33 cents per share.

"Given the risks in the world economy we looked at our prospective Q4 business very closely, but still see good demand for products and services as reflected in our increased outlook," said Geoff Ribar, Cadence's senior vice president and chief financial officer.


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