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Kulicke & Soffa rises on 3Q results

Chip assembly equipment maker Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: KLIC) reported a third quarter net loss much narrower than analysts expected.

The fiscal third quarter loss of $659,000, or 3 cents a share, easily bested First Call's consensus estimate of a 9 cents. The results, reported Tuesday before the market opened, also represent an improvement over the net loss of $3.1 million, or 13 cents a share in the same quarter of 1998. Sales for the 1999 third quarter were $110.8 million, compared to $91.7 million in the year ago period.

Shares were rising over 5 percent, up 1 1/4 to 25 1/8 Tuesday morning.

Kulicke & Soffa reported quarterly bookings of $131.0 million, a 34 percent increase over the prior quarter and a $76.0 million improvement over the third quarter of fiscal 1998.

"The equipment business returned to profitability," said C. Scott Kulicke, chairman and CEO of K&S, which had seen four straight quarters of losses from its core business.

K&S missedthe mark in its second quarter despite surging with other chip equipment makers on high order numbers earlier in the year.

Packaging materials also did well, Kulicke said. Advanced Packaging Technology, which includes FCT and the recently purchased XLAM technology, is shown as a separate business this quarter.

During the quarter, the company increased its ownership interest in Flip Chip Technologies, LLC (FCT) from 51 percent to 74 percent.

Five out of 12 analysts covering the stock rate it a "moderate buy" according to Zacks Investment Research.