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KLA-Tencor easily tops estimates

Chip equipment maker KLA-Tencor Corp. (Nasdaq: KLAC) reported second quarter earnings Thursday of $49 million, or 52 cents a share, on sales of $331 million. First Call expected a profit of 48 cents a share.

KLA-Tencor was fueled by the overall gains in the chip sector. Semiconductor companies are boosting capacity to meet demand and chip equipment makers are doing well.

Earnings and sales easily topped year ago figures. Sales were up 71 percent from $193 million in the second quarter a year ago. In the second quarter a year ago, KLA-Tencor had operating earnings of 11 cents a share.

The company said it had record bookings during the quarter with all regions contributing to the increase. Backlog also "increased substantially with most product lines ending the quarter with higher backlog."

Bookings jumped in Taiwan, but slumped in Japan compared to seasonal averages. Gross margins also increased to 54 percent, compared to 50 percent in the first quarter.

Although KLA-Tencor had a strong quarter, the company has to watch out for Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT), which announced plans to buy Etec Systems (Nasdaq: ETEC). Applied will now compete more heavily with KLA-Tencor with Etec in the fold.

KLA-Tencor ended the quarter with $854 million in cash and no long-term debt.