Ultratech, Inc. Q3 2008 Earnings Call Transcript

Oct.16.08 | About: Ultratech, Inc. (UTEK)

Ultratech, Inc. (NASDAQ:UTEK)

Q3 2008 Earnings Call

October 16, 2008 11:00 a.m. ET

Executives

Laura Rebouche - Vice President of Investor Relations

Art Zafiropoulo - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Bruce Wright - Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Chris Blansett - JP Morgan

Doug Reid - Thomas Weisel Partners

Mark Miller - Brean Murray

Matt Petkun - D.A. Davidson

Operator

Good morning. My name is Neg and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Ultratech 2008 Third Quarter Earnings Results Conference Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions).

Thank you and Ms. Rebouche, you may begin your conference.

Laura Rebouche - Vice President of Investor Relations

Good morning, this is Laura Rebouche Vice President of Investor Relations, Corporate and Marketing Communications and I would like to thank everyone for joining us this morning for Ultratech’s third quarter 2008 results conference call.

A press release detailing our financial results was distributed by Business Wire at approximately 5 am this morning and available on our website at www.ultratech.com. A webcast replay will be available for approximately 60 days after the call.

Joining me on today’s call are Art Zafiropoulo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Bruce Wright, Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. After management’s opening remarks, we will open the call for your questions. And in preparing your questions, we ask that you focus on one or two issues and any follow-ups on those issues, so that management is able to respond to as many of you as possible.

And with that, I’ll turn the call over to Art.

Art Zafiropoulo - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Laura. Good morning and welcome to our third quarter conference call. During the course of this presentation, we will be making projections or forward-looking statements regarding future events and the financial performance of the company. We wish to caution you that such statements are just predictions and the actual events or results achieved may differ materially.

We refer you to the documents that the company files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically the Company’s Annual Report filed on Form 10-K for the period ending December 31st, 2007 and our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 28, 2008. These documents contained and identify important factors that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those contained in our projections or forward-looking statements.

The third quarter of 2008 was a continuation of our company's momentum beginning in the fourth quarter of 2007. Our third quarter earnings increased $0.14 per share, the third consecutive quarterly earnings per share increase. The third quarter increase was about 27% greater than the previous strong second quarter's performance.

Our systems book-to-bill ratio was about 1 to 1 with orders from each major geographic region in the world. During this quarter, as we have seen last quarter, our sales activity for our LSA and our AP products had remained strong. Our LSA microsecond anneal systems continue to demonstrate superior performance and is becoming the standard from also the global logic and foundry customers.

Our comments in our last quarter's conference where we said that sales activity has increased significantly and we are expecting this to result in increased bookings for the balance of 2008 is occurring. In the third quarter, we booked a number of orders for our LSA product. And in the beginning of the fourth quarter, we added more orders for the laser spike anneal systems.

So through the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter, we have booked five new LSA100 orders. All of these systems were purchased to be used in the 40 and 45 nanometer node. Our advanced packaging business also continues to show strength with orders from Europe, Asia and United States. We believe that our market share was increased in the third quarter to approximately 88%. Our new system bookings for the quarter were -- in any geographic region with US at 15%, Europe 28%, Japan at 23% and the rest of Asia 34%. LSA orders were 44% our new system bookings and advanced packaging the balance or 56%.

Currently the fourth quarter bookings are looking to be strong and expect the book-to-bill to be greater than 1 to 1. We believe that 2009 will be a good year for Ultratech. However, with the current global economic crisis and lowering consumer confidence, our concern we have planned considerably, we are prepared for sharp growth which is quite possible. We believe that Ultratech serve markets with our laser spike anneal and advanced packaging lithography products serving the most advanced technology nodes moving its production today is unlike most of the other equipment suppliers.

As we had previously mentioned that our LSA products will see increased use in the 45 nanometer ramp in 2009. As we ship to smaller feature sizes, a greater portion of packaging will also ship from wire bonding to bump flip chip in the 2000 marketing forecast. We are seeing a reduction in the amount of capital spending with a greater negative impact for memory manufacturers. The logic market specifically in the 45 and 32 nanometer technology nodes will actually impact in CapEx spending and this will impact our LSA and advanced packaging products which are focused on these advanced nodes. We expect to see strong bookings for the balance of 2008 and in 2009. We believe that the bookings in the first half of 2009 will be a little bit lower than the second half.

We have strong technical leadership in both our major markets for our unity AP and LSA systems. This continues to be demonstrated by our market share leadership with advanced packaging as I mentioned at 88% and to be growing we hope next year in terms of size. Our microsecond laser spike anneal product has also been very well accepted by the logic and foundry chip makers and we have penetrated more than 85% of the larger semiconductor companies.

As we had mentioned last quarter, the number of LSA systems moving into the 40 and 45 nanometer production mode will double this year. We are also seeing those laser systems in production at the most advanced 65 nanometer node also increasing in wafer starts. We will continue to see the 40 and 45 nanometer node order rate greater than the 65 nanometer node. However, several orders for bridge tools in the 65 and 45 nanometer node will be priced. We also should expect to see additional 32 nanometer system orders in 2009.

Larger companies have increased the number of process steps up to four for the LSA junction formation application. We are currently working in other new applications for logic as well as memory devices, some will be introduced next year.

In the advanced packaging market, we expect application such as TSV, Through-Silicon Via, for 3D chip stacking and fan-outs add to the current lithography served markets.

Despite the global economic financial crisis, which should subside within the first half of 2009, our exceptional products and our strong balance sheet will provide factors in the company's continuous success of 2009. We will introduce new AP and LSA models in the second half of 2009; focus on reducing the cost of ownership. Many of the major semiconductor companies will be in right time to purchase these advance tools and to lower the cost of ownership, asset ramp up, their advanced technology knows.

All in all we had a very good third quarter and we believe the fourth quarter this year will be the same and 2009 will also be a very good year for Ultratech, despite the current financial crisis.

Bruce will provide preliminary guidance for the fourth quarter and 2009 in his financial overview. Bruce.

Bruce Wright - Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks Art. I would now like to go through a brief analysis of our income statement and balance sheet for the quarter. Then we will have the teleconference operator open it up for your questions.

As you have heard from Art's comments, the third quarter saw a sequential increase in revenue of about 7% compared to the second quarter of 2008, primarily reflecting more revenue from advanced packaging and the nanotechnology product line, partially offset by less revenue in laser processing. Geographically, revenue increased sequentially from the second quarter of 2008 in Asia Pacific and Europe and decreased in North America.

Demand for advanced packaging systems in the third quarter of 2008 accounted for about 52% of revenue and about 56% of new systems orders. Laser processing systems in the third quarter of 2008 accounted for about 19% of revenue and about 44% of new systems orders.

Gross margin in the third quarter of 2008 increased to about 49% from approximately 47% in the second quarter of 2008, primarily due to product mix, higher capacity utilization and lower warranty and installation costs.

Turning now to a comparison of the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2007; revenue for the third quarter was $34.4 million up about 37% from $25.2 million for the same period a year ago. The company had net income for the third quarter of 2008 of $3.3 million, which represented earnings per share diluted of $0.14. This net income compares with the net loss of $900,000 or $0.04 per share for the same quarter a year ago.

For the third quarter of 2008 versus third quarter of 2007 comparison of revenue mix; systems revenue was up about 59% in the third quarter of 2008 and service and spares revenue was down about 12%. For the third quarter of 2008, systems revenue accounted for approximately 80% of the total, broken out as 71% from semiconductor and 8% from nanotechnology. And service and spares revenue for about 20%.

Geographically, revenue from Asia Pacific for the third quarter of 2008 was $20.2 million, up about 69% from the third quarter of 2007 and represented 59% of the Company's total third quarter 2008 revenue. Europe had revenue of $8.5 million, up about 900% from the third quarter of 2007 and represented 25% of the total. And North America had revenue of $5.7 million, down about 54% and represented 16% of the total.

Our top five customers for the quarter were advanced packaging customers from Asia-Pacific, and Europe and laser processing customers from Asia-Pacific. Overall, the top five customers accounted for 89% of systems revenue.

Gross margin increased to about 49% in the third quarter of 2008 compared with 41% in the third quarter of 2007. This increase was due primarily to a favorable product mix shift higher capacity utilization and lower warranty and install costs.

Looking at operating expenses in the third quarter of 2008; R&D as a percentage of revenue decreased to about 17% from approximately 23.5% a year ago, primarily due to the approximately 37% increase in revenue for the period. SG&A expenses decreased to approximately 23.5% of revenue, down from about 28% a year ago also primarily due to the approximately 37% increase in revenue for the period.

Total operating expenses for the quarter decreased to about 40.5% of revenue from approximately 51.5% in the third quarter of 2007. Operating margin for the third quarter of 2008 was about 8.5% of revenue up from negative 10.5% in the third quarter of 2007.

Interest and other income net decreased to $400,000 in the third quarter of 2008 from $1.6 million in the third quarter of 2007, primarily due to lower interest rates. The company has essentially no income tax impact in the third quarter of 2008. During the year, quarterly income tax provisions are determined using an estimated effective tax rate for the entire year. This rate is based on the jurisdictional mix of earnings and has the potential to fluctuate as business moves from one geographic region to another.

Turning now to our third quarter 2008 versus second quarter 2008 comparison of the balance sheet; cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments increased by about $11 million during the third quarter to total about $152 million at September 30th, 2008. Accounts receivable decreased about 1% during the third quarter to approximately $21 million on a shipment increase of about 45% compared to the second quarter of 2008.

Inventories decreased during the third quarter by about 6% to approximately $32 million. Working capital increased to about $181 million of $7.70 per share at September 30th, 2008. Book value per share at September 30th, 2008 was $7.99, up from $7.84 at June 30th, 2008.

Now, let’s take a few minutes to look at the future from a financial perspective. At this point, it is very important to recall and underscore the Safe Harbor comments Art made at the beginning of the call. Ultratech’s markets and industry are notoriously cyclical and fully subject to the risks enumerated in the Company’s 10-Qs and 10-K. As a result, any forward-looking statements are highly vulnerable to very sudden and dramatic changes. In addition, the company undertakes no obligations to update information presented in forward-looking statements.

Consistent with the statement I just made about high vulnerability to very sudden and dramatic changes we can all certainly testify the significantly altered economic situation we find ourselves in, compared to our last earnings release teleconference call three months ago. In recent weeks we have not seen customers come to us to request pullings of scheduled delivery dates as we did earlier. However, we are still not experiencing any order push outs.

Our factory build plan is full right now, for the fourth quarter of 2008, and essentially full for the first quarter of 2009, which means we will be having at least four quarters in a row where we aren’t working for turns business to fill out the quarter. Our sales force and manufacturing team are finishing up with orders and build schedules for the first quarter of 2009 and moving on to focus on the second quarter of 2009.

At last quarter's earnings teleconference call we cautiously raised our financial estimates for 2008. We are now reconfirming and reiterating those estimates, even in the phase of the current environment. After expensive interactions with our customers, we still believe that we will see second half of 2008 revenue around 10% higher than the first half of 2008.

For the full year we still anticipate 2008 revenue to be 15% to 20% higher than 2007. We expect to see slight gross margin improvement sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter of 2008. We still believe the EPS range for 2008 will be $0.40 to $0.50. Cash flow is expected to be positive in the fourth quarter of 2008 and for the full year.

Taking a look at 2009, we are fortunate that our advanced packaging and laser processing systems are absolutely key components to our customers achieving their business goals. So while they are cutting their capital programs in other areas, they have no plans at this time to do so with us. Nonetheless, given the [somber tenure] of the current global economic environment we feel that it is more prudent than ever to be conservative in next year's financial projections. As a result, we believe that revenue for 2009 could be flat to up 10% compared to 2008.

Gross margin is expected to improve slightly. R&D expenditures should remain about flat on an absolute dollar basis. We want to work on dropping our operating break even point even further so our goal next year is to take out another couple of million dollars out of SG&A compared to 2008.

Our best estimate for other income net not knowing what the Fed will do with interest rates is to assume the same quarterly run rate we saw in the third quarter of 2008. We feel that 2009 tax rate may be around 10%. We believe earnings per share could be in the $0.50, to $0.70 range. Cash flow should be positive. Finally, we would like to wrap up our formal remarks by reminding you of the Reg FD restrictions. In UltraTech, the only three people authorized to talk to you about the company are Art Zafirpoulo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, me, Bruce Wright, Chief Financial Officer, and Laura Rebouche, Vice President of Investor Relations.

For any calls or questions after the teleconference call dealing with quantitative matters, we will refer you back to the comments made during the teleconference call.

That concludes our formal remarks and now we would like to open it up for your questions. Operator, would you please begin the polling.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions). Your first question comes from Chris Blansett with JP Morgan. Your line is open.

Chris Blansett

Hi, guys. Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to kind of get a status check of how your different product lines are doing in the field, meaning from more of a utilization perspective, with all the negative news flow out there about a slow down in tech, I wanted to see how things are trending specifically for your different products and how you think that's going to impact you over the next, say, couple of quarters?

Art Zafiropoulo

Okay, this is Art. Chris, thanks for the question. Let me take it from the advanced packaging area and two parts of it. One is in the bumping area for wafers and the other is in the gold bumping for the flat panel displays. The flat panel display area is still a bit of a problem, and we do expect a little bit of business next year in that area but currently it is in the 60% range, between 60 and 70% utilization. And the wafer processing and the wafer level CSP business, that is much much higher and we're seeing numbers over 90% in that area currently. So, we see no change in those projected orders for Q4 or for next year at the current time. So the advanced packaging area is looking quite strong and then new applications as I mentioned earlier should begin to increase in 2009.

In the laser technology area, in the 65 nanometer node, the systems are being utilized fairly heavily. Again, it is the second generation technology node, not the first. And so I'd give you a guess in excess of 80%. And depending upon which companies in the 45 nanometer node, can we go back to 55 for a minute, that we do have some companies running in the 90% plus range on 65. In the 45 again, they are ramping up but their plans looking forward are for expansion in the 45 as it ramps up. And they are using our systems for multi pass which means that there is more than one step of the junction formation that they using the system for, and it is up to four steps now by several companies in the world. And so the routing capacity for multi step and also for just planned 45 nanometer and 40 nanometer expansion. So in general, it is ramping up, heavier in the 65 nanometer utilization currently. Ramping up in 40, 45 nanometers and they are buying tools with expectations of the multi process steps that are required for laser.

Chris Blansett

All right, then in general then is really any difference in the settlement from your different customer bases or are they -- it means it is interesting how much there is so much negative news and we have heard maybe the sub cons would impact your APL systems, or cutting back. I don't know if you're seeing that or what they are saying?

Art Zafiropoulo

Well, the major accounts that we have in the packaging area have not notified us of any changes. So that -- and one particular major logic company has actually increased the number of machines for next year at their current plants with our company. Then we have that major expansion and in Clark, the Philippines which we see no change in that expansion which is about a three-year period and expectations are something at a range of between 13 and 16 systems there. And so those are two major accounts and the rest of them are really minor in comparison to those two majors, one being much more significant than the other major account.

And so we're not seeing really the impact of that currently. And the latest information we have is no change there. And again, in the laser technology area, you know, it is a fairly large market and we're a rather small player. Typically these systems with one pass operate around 8,000 wafer starts a month. If you picture four pass that’s equivalent to 2,000 wafter starts a month and so that’s why we are working to make sure on our new products to increase the productivity to reduce the cost of ownership driven by this multi-pass technology that they are implementing. So in general, although there is still capital restrained to some extend, logic in general should increase in CapEx spending next year what I believe a sharp decrease continuing on with memory.

Chris Blansett

Thanks guys. I will come back for another question.

Operator

The next question comes from Doug Reid with Thomas Weisel Partners. Your line is open.

Doug Reid

Thanks so much for taking my question. First one, actually I have a couple. First one is one the competitive landscape, wondering Art, what you have seen on the LSA side in terms of the development from your competitors?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

Well, nothing much has changed, really nothing has changed. We still have the competition out there being -- Dainippon Screen, we think, is the #1 competitor that we seem to be very active. Applied is somewhat active in one application but at this time our focus really on the main competitor is DNS with their Flash system.

Doug Reid

Can you talk a little bit about Ultratech’s decision to purchase IBM’s annealing patents and how that positions you longer term?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

These patents were related to thermal processing and temperature measurement and this just builds our portfolio of IP within our laser technology and thermal technology area. So we felt this was an important part to add that to our collection of important technology patents and that’s why we acquired them from IBM.

Doug Reid

I just wanted -- on pricing. As you look to ’09 and you realize your packaging customers are -- strained or likely be some – current trends continue, are you finding yourself preparing for price concessions in your side, and if not why not?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

No, we're not, because again the products really are considerably better than the competitive products at this time and so we are not seeing any price erosion currently. And we want to make sure that those packaging typically the markets that we see and some of the PC area and also some of the mobile applications, we think, will increase next, not decrease.

Doug Reid

All right. Congratulations on a good quarter.

Arthur Zafiropoulo

Thank you.

Operator

And the next question comes from the line of Mark Miller with Brean Murray.

Mark Miller

Congratulations. It is very heartening to hear some good news after what we have been hearing for so long. Just wondering, you announced a recent sale to a higher brightness LED market. How are you penetrating that market? It’s been a real high growth market for certain equipment suppliers like Miko and Axiotron and I know you don't compete against them but I am just wondering how you penetrated that market.

Arthur Zafiropoulo

Right. The market is very fragmented right now. There are a number of very small companies located in Korea and Taiwan and elsewhere. And a few of them that are in the growth mode currently. We think this is going to be a very big market for our company and it resembles a great deal the thin film head market that we served over a number of years and we still dominate in the back end and have over 90% market share there. So, we think this market looks like that a lot and we think the potential market is a few hundred systems. In the beginning when these companies were formed, they went out and bought used equipment, many contact aligners and proximity liners. And as they moved to production, yield is becoming a major issue. So as they improved the feasibility of their technology and they are moving to production, they need to have some projection type alignment systems and these systems are the lowest cost steppers in the world and they run around 1 to $1.5 million, these new machines and they are very productive and they have throughputs of 80, 90 wafers per hour. And we have got about 15, 1,600 of these things in the field today. So in general, it is a very reliable tool. It’s proven for smaller wafer sizes and currently the wafer size that most larger companies are using is 2-inch and they are going to 4-inch now. So, the tool is extendible to 6-inch. We think this has several more years of life within that environment. And we believe that the LED, white light area is a really a potential major solution to the conservation of energy, where today, about 20% of the total energy in the world is used for lighting. So, we believe that conservation is one of the solutions to our energy problem and we're doing that both with our laser technology for junction formation, and doing it with our LED application. So this is an interesting area that we expect growth to be in the next several years. We are not factoring this to a major way into our business until we get more clarity as to what's happening, but we're very encouraged by this product and this market place.

Mark Miller

So you're saying there is still a potential for a few hundred systems left for you guys?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

That we believe that, yes, over the next several years.

Mark Miller

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Matt Petkun with D.A. Davidson.

Matt Petkun

Hi. A couple of follow-up questions, first, Mark's question about the LED order. Did that order fall in Q4 just because within the order mix that you disclosed you didn't really talk about really bump in LSA?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

No that was booked in Q3.

Matt Petkun

Okay. Not a huge order then?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

A nice order.

Matt Petkun

Okay. And then Bruce the transaction with Intel or not Intel, IBM -- I am sorry, just on the on the IP purchase, did that fall in Q3 or Q4. I am just wondering from a cash perspective whether or not that’s reflected in your current cash balance?

Bruce Wright

It is and it occurred in Q4

Matt Petkun

Well, then you guys have pretty substantially year-over-year growing your cash balance and this is definitely not a time in the market place where we needed to think about anything other than maintaining cash just because of all the uncertainty, but you are at this point, you have a larger cash balance that I can recall. What are your longer term plans here, with the cash?

Bruce Wright

Longer term plans for cash are to increase cash. And at this point when everything is so uncertain, I think it’s a great comfort not only to employees, vendors, and investors, but also comfort to management to be able to have a really, really strong balance sheet. It allows us to do a lot of things. Not the least of which, potentially could be that we think the industry is on the verge of a lot of consolidation. And having a strong balance sheet like this is not only a security blanket, but it's also a weapon. And, we conceivably could consider using it as such if there is really strategic situation that pop up out there.

Matt Petkun

Okay, then one other question. On your guidance for next year, not to get too specific, but I am wondering if you could roughly break out, if you're talking about flat to potentially even up 10% next year. When you look at the components of that, potential growth, were you factoring for the packaging business, relative to the LSA business roughly?

Bruce Wright

And that's not getting too specific?

Matt Petkun

No, because I said roughly so that makes it you know, rough.

Bruce Wright

Sure, I understand what you're talking about. You heard Art say that, with what is going on, we're looking for increased business in advanced packaging next year. I think to be conservative, on an LP standpoint, you would say at least the same amount as what we saw this year, but we're also looking for increased business in LP with a ramp of 45. When we talk about overall a forecast of top line being flat to up 10%, that's kind of just a 40,000 foot, top down look at it, rather than a bottoms up build. As we have indicated to you guys before, sometimes, when we get talked to our sales force and we do a bottoms-up build, it looks really good, and that doesn't go with our wanting to be conservative in our financial projections. So just to reiterate a little bit, if you want to look at both advanced packaging looks stronger next year, laser processing, should be stronger than next year, but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves here in this kind of stuff given the economic situation out there.

Arthur Zafiropoulo

Matt, this is Art. Also, I think that we're going to be covering a great deal of this next week at our analysts meeting in New York on Wednesday. And I am going to cover this a little bit more in my closing remarks, but we're going to have not only our people presenting, but a couple of experts in both markets. The business aspect of the laser technology or junction formation and chip market, what's happening there and in the packaging arena? So, I encourage and I will speak more about this later, for those on the call too, if they are interested, this should be a very informative session and very timely, in terms of the presentation for these markets that we project happening next year and the year after that.

Matt Petkun

Okay. One other quick question for you, Art. Cycle times. When you look at the orders and obviously, there is industry uncertainty as a back drop here, but putting that to the side; does it feel like in LSA the cycle times are really starting to pick up when you look at the orders coming down the road? The time to revenue on those orders becoming a lot more rapid?

Arthur Zafiropoulo

Well, our manufacturing cycle time is coming down here. As Bruce talked about, we decreased our inventory a couple million dollars in the quarter and we actually increased our field inventory the same period. So that we're trying to transfer more of the inventories of field to support the customers more effectively in a global nature so that we really had a very strong quarter in reducing inventory, and part of it was due to cycle time. We are also finding that the second machines and third machines going into companies are going in much quicker so typically today, we're typically talking about three months or less and we're targeting to get it down to two months or less. So yes, the cycle time is getting shorter.

Matt Petkun

Great, thank you so much.

Operator

(Operator Instructions).

Laura Rebouche

Operator?

Operator

Yes, there are no more questions in the queue at this time. I would like to turn the call back to management for closing remarks.

Arthur Zafiropoulo

We continue to see strong acceptance for advanced packaging AP products and our Laser Spike anneal systems. We expect this to continue for 2009. We will decrease spending, as Bruce had mentioned, by about $2 million and improve our product reliability and performance. We expect to roll out new models for both AP, LSA markets in the second half of 2009. Next Wednesday, October 22 we will hold our annual analysts meeting in New York City. (Inaudible) coming to this event, I suggest you contact Laura Rebouche immediately since space is limited and we're virtually almost full. We have detailed presentations which will have you served markets at near growth, technical product information and invited experts in the device economics and advanced packaging markets. And with that, I would like to thank you very much for being on the call.

Operator

This concludes today conference call you may now disconnect.

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