Applied Materials signals improving chip demand with robust forecast

Applied Materials Inc forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts’ estimates on Thursday as demand rebounds for semiconductor equipment and services from the coronavirus-driven slump, and predicted sustained spending into 2021. Shares of the chip industry bellwether rose more than 3% in extended trading. “While we’re mindful of potential macroeconomic headwinds, semiconductor equipment demand is strengthening and the longer-term industry growth drivers remain firmly in place,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Dickerson said on a post-earnings call. The company expects current-quarter revenue to be about $4.60 billion, plus or minus $200 million, above analysts’ expectation of $4.36 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Dickerson said current spending levels are expected to be sustained or even higher in 2021, based on feedback from customers. The Santa Clara, California-based company had earlier predicted supply chains to gain strength during the second half of its fiscal year and help recoup sales lost due to the COVID-19 disruptions. In May, Applied Materials flagged a nearly $650 million hit to sales from the pandemic-induced constraints. “We have got a significant chunk of that $650 (million) in fiscal Q3,” Chief Financial Officer Daniel Durn said on the call. “Our expectation is all of that will be in the rear-view mirror exiting our fiscal Q4.” Net sales rose 23% to $4.40 billion in the third quarter ended July 26, beating analysts’ average estimates of $4.18 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Revenue from semiconductor systems, which supplies gears to chipmakers, surged 28% to $2.92 billion.

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