Novellus surges on outlook, stock split

Larry Dignan
2 min read

Shares of Novellus Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NVLS) surged more than 18 percent Monday after the chip equipment maker said its fourth quarter earnings would "substantially exceed" Wall Street estimates.

In morning trading, Novellus was up 16 45/64 to 101 7/8. Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) was up 4 15/16 to 115 11/16, KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC) added 3 19/64 to 99 55/64 and Lam Research (Nasdaq: LRCX) gained 5 3/16 to 94 3/4.

First Call consensus had Novellus reporting earnings of 65 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

Novellus also declared a 3-for-1 stock split, with a record date of Dec. 30 and payment to be made around Jan. 15.

Late Friday, Novellus said revenue for the three-month period would come in at around $190 million, with sales for the first half of next year topping $500 million.

"Because of the significant increase in bookings we have experienced this quarter, we now expect to substantially exceed consensus Street estimates for revenues and profits," CFO Robert Smith said in a statement.

Smith didn't give exact figures for expected earnings, but analysts were bullish. On Monday, Warburg Dillon Read upped Novellus to "strong buy" from "buy" and gave the stock a price target of 120.

"We believe the revenue and earnings growth is the result of major competitive wins in both Novellus Systems' core business as well as their copper products," Warburg analyst Byron Walker said. He added that Novellus should grow faster than the industry rate in 2000.

On Friday, Merrill Lynch raised its earnings forecast for Novellus to $1.75 from $1.72 for this year, and to $4.00 from $3.35 for next year.