Applied Materials Corp. (NASDAQ: AMAT – $22.62) reported sales in the fourth quarter of $2.26 billion, up 14% over year ago levels and in line with analysts’ consensus. Adjusted earnings for the period was $0.27 per share, up 42% year-over-year, also matching the Street estimate. Looking ahead to the first quarter of 2015, the top chip gear-maker expects sales to be in the range of flat to up 5% from the previous quarter and adjusted earnings per share in the range of $0.25 to $0.29 vs. $0.23 in the first quarter of this year, somewhat below the Street view of $0.31 per share sending the shares lower in after-hours trading. Applied Materials appears to be passed its cyclical bottom, and recent order trends augur well for the top line. Its impending merger with Tokyo Electron next year should provide about $250 in cost synergies for 2015 and the shares, which are reasonably valued and yield 1.8%, can continue to be held in an aggressive account for now.