Applied Materials Reports Strong Results
Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT – $22.19) reported a 79% jump in its fiscal third-quarter profit on continued improvement in sales and profit margins. For the fiscal period that ended July 27, Applied reported adjusted net income of $0.28, from $0.18 year earlier and on the high-end of its forecast. Revenue rose 15% to $2.27 billion. Some of Applied Materials’ key metrics for the quarter included: Orders of $2.48 billion, up 24% year-over-year led by its Silicon Systems Group (SSG); year-over-year order growth of $362 million; net sales of $2.27 billion, up 15% year-over-year led by growth in SSG; and adjusted gross margin of 45.5%, up 260 basis points from a year-ago. The company’s results typically swing widely as chip makers react to demand by building or cutting production capacity. The Santa Clara, Calif., company has announced plans to buy Tokyo Electron Ltd. for $9.3 billion, in what would be AMAT’s largest deal to date. Despite some rumblings from China on the competitive merits of the deal, the two companies have said they expect the transaction to close in the second half of the year. I still see ongoing migration to mobile devices as well as the need for next-generation tools as the main growth drivers for the company. Also, Applied can take market share from competitors as it gets more aggressive in higher margin areas, such as inspection and process control and synergies expected from the Tokyo Electron combination. I believe the company has strong growth prospects for the remainder of the year and next along with tight cost controls and the shares can continue to be held in a well-diversified aggressive portfolio. The stock also provides a decent annual dividend payout of $0.40 per share, yielding 1.9% at current levels.