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Lam Research rolls past 2Q estimates

Semiconductor-equipment maker Lam Research Corp. (Nasdaq: LRCX) blew away analysts' estimates in its second quarter Thursday, earning $43.1 million, or 98 cents a share, on sales of $288.6 million.

First Call consensus expected Lam Research to earn 72 cents a share in the quarter.

Its shares closed up 6 11/16 to a 52-week high of 143 1/16 ahead of the earnings report.

The $288.6 million in sales marks a stunning 103 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it posted a loss of $82.8 million, or $2.16 a share, on sales of $141.9 million.

Including a one-time charge of $7.5 million for research and development technology purchased from Oliver Design Inc. in the quarter, Lam Research pocketed $36.7 million, or 83 cents a share.

"Demand for semiconductor capital equipment strengthened considerably during the December quarter," said CEO James Bagley in a prepared release. "Orders for our leading edge equipment came in well above our initial expectations."

In the quarter, new orders jumped 25 percent sequentially, resulting in an expansion of backlog for the fifth consecutive quarter.

Gross profit margins increased to 43.5 percent in the quarter.

Lam Research shares fell to a 52-week low of 25 3/4 last January.

Nineteen of the 21 analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects it to earn $3.01 a share in the fiscal year.