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Mattson Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MTSN)

Q1 2014 Results Earnings Conference Call

April 24, 2014, 06:00 PM ET

Executives

J. Michael Dodson - COO and CFO

Fusen Chen - President and CEO

Analysts

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Brett Piira - B. Riley & Company

Benedict Pang - Northland Capital Markets

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

Graham Tanaka - Tanaka Capital

Christian Schwab- Craig-Hallum & Co.

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to your Mattson First Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. At this time all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. On today's call are Fusen Chen, Mattson Technology's President and Chief Executive Officer; and Mike Dodson, the company's Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

I'd now like to turn the call over to Mr. Dodson. Please go ahead.

J. Michael Dodson

Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today to discuss Mattson Technology's financial results for the first quarter of 2014. Fusen will give you an overview of the business and guidance for the second quarter of 2014, and then I will provide the detailed financial results.

Before going into the specifics of the call I'd like to remind everyone that information provided in today's conference call contains forward-looking statements regarding the company's future prospects, including but not limited to, anticipated market position, compliance with line of credit covenants, cash balances, revenue, margins, operating expenses, earnings per share, tax provisions and basic and fully diluted shares outstanding for future periods.

Forward-looking statements address matters that are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that can cause actual results to differ materially. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those described in today's news release and in the company's Forms 10-K, 10-Q and other filings with the SEC. The company assumes no obligation to update the information provided in this conference call.

And now let me turn the call over to Fusen Chen. Fusen?

Fusen Chen

Thank you and welcome to Mattson Technology's first quarter 2014 earnings call. Today I am very pleased to report Mattson has achieved a third consecutive profitable quarter. Mattson has steadily improved its financial performance, throughout the past year, growing from revenue of $20.2 million and a loss of $0.16 a share in the first quarter of 2013, to revenue of $43.2 million and a profit of $0.04 per share in the first quarter of 2014. Due to improvements made over the past year Mattson is positioned to continue solid financial performance through the future cyclical high and lows of our industry. The improved financial stability provides the foundation to increase operational efficiency and to drive further research and development, which are catalysts for Mattson's continuous growth.

In 2014, we expect semiconductor revenue to be around $350 million, a high single-digit percentage growth over 2013. Smartphones, tablet and solid state drives will continue to increase demand for memory ICs by approximately 15% in 2014. The major effects of this demand on the semiconductor sales will be in technology upgrades for DRAM and the new wafer fab capacity expansion for NAND. Similarly, for pure play foundries the projected semiconductor revenue growth will be approximately 14% in 2014 with wafer stock capacity increased for 20 and the sub 20 nanometer production which includes several new facility projects.

In 2014 our initial estimate of overall capital expenditure was an increase approximately 5% of wafer fab equipment spending growing up to 10% over 2013 to approximately $32 billion. In the NAND segment there is potential for the original forecast 3D NAND capacity expansions to be slightly delayed.

However, the need for NAND big growth is expected to shift to capacity addition in planar NAND facilities. In DRAM segment we expect continuous spending for technology transitions. In the foundry segment we are seeing slight delays in sub-20 nanometer investment due to adjustment in a capacity print. We believe that total long-term capital investment will continue to be healthy.

Now turning to Mattson's products the contribution of Dry Strip to Mattson's overall business is expanding as some foundries trend increase their wafer stock capacity in the second half of this year. The established market position of our strip products at four of the top five foundries is expected to drive our dry strip revenue through 2014 and into 2015. We anticipate these foundry positions combined with production position at a multiple memory customers will maintain Mattson's position as a leader in a dry strip market in 2014.

Our paradigmE Etch system was a significant driver of revenue in the first quarter as the balance at the year-end and the planar NAND production side, install system for technology node transitions. Multiple paradigmE system was also shipped for 3D NAND production. In addition new applications are being developed for advanced wafer level packaging with systems shipping in the first quarter's increasing Mattson's etch market position.

In the foundry/logic segment we continue to engage in development of advance FinFET etch applications with leading etch productivity. Follow transition to sub-20 nanometer production Mattson's Helios XP rapid thermal system continues to hold a strong market position, with dual-side wafer heating and the differential thermal energy control. The Helios XP provides leading etch technical performance for advance foundry productions.

In the memory segment the Helios XP is qualified for both the DRAM and NAND production processes and is positions for additional revenue contribution when capacity increase are required.

Mattson's biggest product achievement over the first quarter was 18 additional production capacity of advanced Millisecond Anneal Processing at our customer sites. As discussed last quarter our Millisecond Anneal systems, the Millios was qualified in the first quarter of 2013 for high volume advance production at a leading foundry/logic customer. Also we recently announced additional Millios system shipments to multiple wafer fabrication facilities. Today there are two distinct millisecond anneal technologies available for advanced semiconductor fabrications. The Millios utilize our proprietary arc lamp flash technology to achieve industry leading device performance and the wafer throughout.

As a result the Millios has been qualified for multiple applications at 20 and sub-20 nanometer technology node. In regard to the high productivity of the Millios is Mattson's proprietary wafers stress management technology to minimize wafer breakage.

As also discussed last quarters we currently have a Millios under evaluation at another customer. Upon successful completion of this evaluation we expect additional orders by the end of the year. Mattson is fully engaged with our customers to achieve product excellence and growing our Millios business. We continue to focus on increasing the market shares of our products with a specific attention on growing our etch business and continuing to build a leading market position in the rapid second anneal and millisecond anneal market in 2014. We will also continue to stabilize our internal operations, strengthen the foundation upon which Mattson will continue to grow.

Primary due to change in sub 20-nanometer foundry production ramp coming we expect our second quarter revenue to slightly soften compared to our first quarters. Our guidance for the second quarter of 2014 is revenue of $41 million plus or minus $2 million and a profit of $0.03, plus or minus $0.02 per share.

Now Mike will provide further details on our financial performance.

J. Michael Dodson

Thank you, Fusen. I would now like to discuss the detailed financial results for the first quarter of 2014. Revenue for the first quarter was $43.2 million, representing an increase of 6% as compared with revenue of $40.8 million in the prior quarter. The system revenue mix during the first quarter was similar to the prior quarter with just under two-third etch, just over a quarter RTP and just over 10% strip.

During the first quarter, just over half of the system revenues were memory applications comprising of DRAM, NAND and 3D NAND and the remainder of the system revenues were foundry and logic applications. Gross margin in the first quarter was 34% which is up two percentage points compared to the gross margin of 32% in the prior quarter. The current quarter benefited from higher revenue levels and increased high margins spares revenue, driven by higher levels of upgrades during the quarter.

Similar to the prior quarter and expected next quarter, there was continued gross margin pressure from the initial shipments of the Millios. This gross margin pressure on the initial Millios shipments will be complete in the second quarter. Looking forward to the second quarter we expect our gross margin to be in the same range as the first quarter at 34% plus or minus two percentage points as the revenue level and the product mix are consistent with the first quarter.

Operating expenses were $11.9 million in the first quarter, which represented an increase of $800,000 or 7% from $11.1 million incurred in the prior quarter. The increase in operating expenses over the prior quarter was primarily due to increased sales, service and administrative costs associated with higher revenue levels and professional fees incurred to complete the annual audits and related regulatory filings. Operating expenses represented 28% of revenue in the first quarter and are lower than the long-term operating target of 30% of revenue.

As discussed on last quarter's call, we expected operating expenses to increase moderately as the business continues to grow through the cycle. However, given the slightly lower revenue guidance in the second quarter we expect to hold operating expenses flat in the second quarter compared to the first quarter. At this level operating expenses are still expected to come in at 29% of revenues at the mid-point of our second quarter revenue guidance or slightly better than long-term target of 30%.

Related to income taxes, the provision for income taxes was $200,000 in the first quarter, compared to a benefit for income taxes of $600,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013. The current quarter tax provision is in the range of annual provision estimate discussed on the call last quarter. The prior quarter tax benefit consisted primarily of foreign taxes, more than offset by the tax benefit from the release of uncertain tax position reserves due to the expiration of statues. Looking at the estimated tax provision for the remainder of 2014 we expect the provision to approximate $200,000 per quarter.

Net income for the first quarter was $2.5 million or a $0.04 net income per share and was flat with the prior quarter. Our fully diluted weighted average share count for the first quarter was 68 million shares. In 2014 beyond the first quarter we would expect the estimated fully diluted average share count to approximate an average of 75 million shares.

Now taking a look at balance sheet, including restricted cash we ended the first quarter with working capital of $62.4 million, more than doubling from $29.1 million at the end of the prior quarter. This increase was primarily due to an equity offering during the quarter with net proceeds of $31 million plus cash generated by operations. The composition of the working capital at the end of the first quarter included an increase over the prior quarter and accounts receivable of $10.9 million, which was primarily due to increased revenue levels and back-end loaded shipment scheduled during the quarter.

Inventory balances also increased over the prior quarter by $9.4 million primarily due to the ramp of Millios production and related spare parts stocking preparing for early second quarter deliveries as well as a number of systems that were pushed out due to the changes in the sub-20 nanometer production ramp. Cash balances at the end of the first quarter were $19.4 million, including restricted cash of $2.1 million. There were no borrowings under the line of credit at the end of the quarter.

In summary from a financial performance perspective results for the first quarter continued the sequential quarterly trend of profitable results with revenues increasing by 6%, gross margins improving by two percentage points, operating expenses came in at 28% of revenues and Mattson posted solid profitability with earnings per share of $0.04.

Now I will turn the call back to Fusen.

Fusen Chen

Thank you Mike. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Mattson who has continued to work so hard to achieve our current results. As we strive for Mattson’s continued growth I deeply appreciate our employees and the partners for their focused efforts which turned the company to profitability after a long period of losses. Every day I look forward to coming in and working with the team who have turned this company around over the past year. Once again I thank all of you. We have now completed our business and the financial updates and are open for your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions). Our first question comes from Edwin Mok with Needham & Company. Your line is open.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Hi thanks for taking my question. Congrats for a good quarter. So my first question is regarding the kind of pushed out and based on your guidance of little lower in this June quarter, do you -- and if you look into September quarter do you expect like further delays into December quarter or do you think that in the second half of September quarter you’ll start to get some of those revenue back, I'm trying to get sense in terms of the timing of that?

Fusen Chen

Yeah, I think this can be everybody’s guess but our feeling is between Q3 and Q4 and hopefully we'd like to see Q3 and Q4. So it really depends on our customers coming to start the investment but hopefully we'll start to see this investment favor to us in Q3.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

I see, okay that’s fair. Talk about the products a little bit on the -- in the March quarter it looks like given that you have shipped two [milli] Millios right as you had those in your press release right. So does that mean that you have no Helios revenue in the March quarter given that only a quarter of your revenue come from RTP and then in terms of revenue recognition from Millios is that a delay revenue recognition as a result of a new tool, can you help us with that?

Fusen Chen

Yeah. First relating to the Millios we shipped a number of tools this quarter. When we look at the revenue recognition we will have one revenue recognized in -- one Millios recognized in Q1 and one Millios recognized in Q2, from a revenue standpoint.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

I see, I see. And one of the competitor actually talked about that they expect a pretty meaningful increase in terms of the millisecond process right as we get in second half for 16 nano -- 14 nanometer process. Are you guys seeing this in the trend or you are not sure of this, any kind of color on that?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, when we look at our Millios opportunity we have talked on the last call that that would be between $25 million and $30 million for the year. So definitely based on what we see in the first-half we would expect the second-half to be bigger than the first-half.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

I see. Okay, great. That’s helpful. And then I guess one question on etch, with a very strong quarter it sounds like 3D NAND was a big contributor. As you get into the second quarter and into second half with 3D NAND spending moderating what would allow you guys to have similar level of etch business?

Fusen Chen

Well, aiming for the etch of course the [win] of 3D NAND might experience some delay. The capacity might shift to a planar NAND and we do believe that we have a good engagement with our customer. And also for DRAM investment we continue to believe investment will be lower and we are focused again to additional application on NAND and the DRAM as every quarter goes. So we do believe even as 3D NAND push off we will still see the etch business for planar NAND and the DRAM.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

I see, great. Very helpful. And I last question I have for you Mike. How do you kind of think about gross margin in the June quarter and as you go into the second-half of the year? I think you mentioned there is -- I think Fusen mentioned there, it does expect -- some expect to pick-up in strip in the foundry side. I remember a few quarters ago you had extremely low margin from the strip business, should we expect to see something like that again?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, when we look at beyond next quarter we would expect the mix to favor etch and to favor RTP. So strip can increase but it won’t as a percentage, we wouldn’t expect it to. So we don’t expect that to put any pressure on us in the back half of the year. And actually as we have just mentioned with higher Millios revenue in the back half of the year that should help our mix and help our margins as well and we would expect that we should be approaching the low end of the long term model.

Our long term model has 40 to 45% gross margins. So on the back-half of this year with the return of the sub-20 nanometer investment in the foundry business we would expect that our gross margin would approach the lower end of our range.

Y. Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great, that’s all I have. Thank you.

J. Michael Dodson

Thanks, Edwin.

Operator

Our next question comes from Timothy Arcuri with Cowen and Company. Your line is open.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Thanks so much, hi guys.

J. Michael Dodson

Hi, there Tim.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

So a couple of things I -- just from your answer to the previous question, Mike I am assuming that you are still comfortable with the $25 million to $30 million for MSA for the full year?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, that’s correct.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Okay, and maybe just to follow-up on that so there was competitor that this morning reported and they talked about that a customer pulled in the 14 nanometer schedule with some order pick-up during the back half of the year. Does that in anyway shrink sort of the window of opportunity or that timing for penetrating that node with MSA?

Fusen Chen

Well, the business I think we had -- we have discussion with our customer, actually 14 nanometer capacities and this has been going on for few months unless the plan changed dramatically we do expect we will get order and fulfill with the revenue.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Okay, great Fusion. And then Mike can you just confirm what the current NOL is and what the value that would be written back on to the balance sheet and I think it was like a $170 million maybe as the last time I asked and maybe what the auditors are going to require for you to write that back on the balance sheet I think it’s you know two or three year worth of profits correct?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, we have NOL-wise we have over $400 million in NOLs. The deferred tax asset attributes of that is in the range that you mentioned a $170 million, $180 million and that’s fully reserved. So at the point the typical rule is consecutive years of profits. So if you look at -- once we have established that track record we would look to reverse that valuation allowance. So that’s a one-time non-cash reversal that would be in the range of $170 million, 180 million.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Okay and then just lastly Fusen, can you talk a little bit about your sort of confidence in being able to exit a year, I think there was a feeling that may be you could get to the closer to $50 million revenue number exiting the year. So given some of the push outs, I know a lot depends on [Shehan] and a lot depends on things like that. But as that all sort of comes in and it's just like a mild delay how do you feel about being able to get to that revenue level exiting the year still?

Fusen Chen

So as I comment in my script I think we still feel positive about long term capital investment but I think there is uncertainty when [inaudible] will the big project happen. I think with the current product portfolio, the $50 million in our opinion will happen when both foundry and memory have a healthy investment in the same quarter and we really feel comfortable with the product portfolio offering we will be able to achieve that. But given some uncertainty in the big project spending and we hope when the healthy quarter come as both DRAM and our foundry come we feel comfortable but we really cannot identify, this will happen in subsequent quarter like Q3 or Q4. But we do believe here for DRAM did not happen in Q4. It's just a measure of the time, it will happen in Q1 and Q2 so that’s our opinion.

Timothy Arcuri - Cowen and Company

Got it, okay. Thanks a lot, guys.

J. Michael Dodson

Okay. Thanks Tim.

Operator

Our next question comes from Brett Piira with B. Riley and Company. Your line is open.

Brett Piira - B. Riley & Company

Great, thanks for taking my question, guys. Just a clarification on your $25 million to $30 million MSA target. That would include the second evaluation call time by under the year is that correct?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, that’s correct. That’s the range gives us further puts and takes from different customers.

Brett Piira - B. Riley & Company

Okay, great. And then, Mike just as I am looking at your OpEx throughout the year if we did say have a flatter down third quarter even a down, are you pretty confident you can keep the OpEx below the 30% target or just how do we think about the give and takes there?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah I think we’ve shown over the last two years a lot of progress in restructuring and resizing the company. We’ve got good cost controls in place. So we really want to monitor that and if business were to continue to be soft we would be taking actions and doing what it meant to stay within that range.

Brett Piira - B. Riley & Company

Okay, great. And maybe just one more on the inventory levels, understandable that it's ramping up there with the Millios. So is this a new level that we should think of or should that really trend downwards the sell-through?

J. Michael Dodson

Well it's the Millios has contributed to that, it's the foundry 20, sub-20 nanometer push outs has contributed to that. We wouldn’t expect that to move out until Q3 okay. So I would expect to be probably at this level until that point.

Brett Piira - B. Riley & Company

Okay great. Thanks a lot.

J. Michael Dodson

Okay.

Operator

Our next question comes from Ben Pang with Northland Capital Markets. Your line is open.

Benedict Pang - Northland Capital Markets

Thanks for taking my question. On the price -- we’ve talked about for the second half of the year for foundry what node is that for?

Fusen Chen

We are talking about -- this is the 14 nanometers.

Benedict Pang - Northland Capital Markets

So that said, does this [strip] your confidence, strip to shift I mean…

Fusen Chen

Was that a question?

Operator

Pardon me it appears Mr. Pang’s line has disconnected. Our next question comes from David Duley with Steelhead Securities. Your line is open.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

Thanks for taking my question. I guess my first question is just a clarification. With the Millios you qualified for 20 nanometers and sub-20 nanometers, is that, does that mean 14 nanometers?

Fusen Chen

That's correct.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

And are you -- is there any technical differences between the tools when you have to move to FinFET structure versus a regular structure or would your Millios be able to handle either type structures?

Fusen Chen

Actually 20 nanometer lay out some company is doing a planar structures. And industry move to a FinFET mainly is for the sub-20 nanometers, either 16 or 14 is the FinFET structures. So we really don't see the extendibility issue from 20 to 16 or 14 nanometer with regard to your questions.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

Yeah, that's really the question from a technical basis will you performance of the Millios be just as good on a FinFET structure versus a regular structure.

Fusen Chen

The answer is yes.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

And you talked about on the last conference call kind of the longer term target next year in etch and strip having -- can't remember the exact revenue number which I think was $115 million or something like that. Could you talk about from your perspective what are the two things that you need to achieve to get to a much higher level of etch revenue, is it just getting -- gaining share at your current customers or do you need new customers?

Fusen Chen

Of course we have current very high concentration with memory customers. In the meantime we also engaged in the logic area with the same customer. We also are working with another logic/foundry customers on the FinFET transistor. So to answer your question I think to get etch bigger we really got to diversify our customer base and even with the current customer we plan to work hard to gain more applications, to achieve the business objective we set.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

Okay, and the push outs that you are experiencing from your foundry customers, I think you mentioned that was on the sub-20 nanometer node, are you seeing any spending now at 20 nanometers and above?

Fusen Chen

We don't see -- for the foundry main exposure of our product actually is the Helios XP. And we start to gain position at the 20 nanometer. So yes for the Q1 we start from Q3, 2013 until this moment I think we are seeing healthy investment over 20 nanometer for our Helios XP.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

And the reasons that the ramp has been delayed at whichever customer you are referring to, could you just talk from a 30,000 foot perspective why you think that there is delay there?

Fusen Chen

I think it's really customers plan, this really relates to customer's strategy. I think in 2013 they already had spent a lot of capital, established a lot of capacity. So 20 nanometer I think they have enough capacity. And we are seeing some delay for 20 nanometers.

David Duley - Steelhead Securities

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). Our next question comes from Graham Tanaka with Tanaka Capital. Your line is open.

Graham Tanaka - Tanaka Capital

Wondering if you could, Mike maybe quantify or estimate what the effect on earnings is of sort of the delayed revenue rec -- rev-rec for Millios on this -- in other words if you didn't have that delayed rev-rec?

Fusen Chen

Well I mean -- so maybe I can answer this question. I think we actually had to ship two Millios in Q1. The last Millios was shipped at the last day of Q1. And from our revenue policy actually last day of fiscal Q1 is actually is Q2. So we -- our revenue in the second shipment for that multiple shipment, so we actually did not expect a delayed recognition of Millios, if that answers your questions.

Graham Tanaka - Tanaka Capital

But I am just wondering what the effect is on earnings per share of the delay in rev-rec?

J. Michael Dodson

But we don't, I mean Graham we don't talk about individual shipments right and the EPS effect of an individual shipment and there was no delay in the rev-rec. We recognize revenue in accordance with our normal policy right.

Graham Tanaka - Tanaka Capital

And then the other is the sort of the 3D NAND push out and the other push outs in the industry, how much is that actually in roughly in either units or millions of dollars that you can estimate being pushed?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah when we look at the 3D NAND, that was very strong for us in Q3 through Q1 and the second phase for our customer will be either later this year or early next year. So expanding our numbers up to this point, when we gave guidance for Q2 and the softness that we see which is just very slight softness we would attribute that to the foundry sub-20 nanometers and it's a little bit of softness but not significant.

Graham Tanaka - Tanaka Capital

Thank you.

J. Michael Dodson

Okay.

Operator

Our next question comes from Christian Schwab with Craig-Hallum. Your line is open.

Christian Schwab- Craig-Hallum & Co.

I just want to make sure you kind of you expect gross margins to improve from the 34% plus or minus range in Q2 to 40% range in the second half of this year, did I hear that right?

J. Michael Dodson

Yeah, we should be approaching by the end of the year. So wouldn’t be -- you wouldn’t expect the same in Q3 as Q4 but we should be approaching 40% by Q4.

Christian Schwab- Craig-Hallum & Co.

Okay. So kind of ladder step that up. As far as revenue then given kind of the delays in the sub-20 nanometer and not knowing exact timing of the 3D NAND project second phase, would revenue in the second half of this calendar year be more or less than the first half?

Fusen Chen

Chris, I think this is a difficult question. First of all, I think memory if 3D NAND have a slight delay it might be with the planar NAND. And when we experience delay of foundry it might come back by end of the year. So I think at this moment next, I we feel next three to nine months probably will be a little bit difficult to identify the exact timing of the big project, so that’s really our feeling at this moment.

Christian Schwab- Craig-Hallum & Co.

Right, so the back half of the year revenues could -- the second half revenues of calendar year could be modestly less than the first half and then as we talked about it a few quarters ago on the significant revenue ramp, as soon as revenues began to stabilize plus or minus or even declined a little bit sequentially there would be a huge gross margin catch up, am I thinking about that correctly?

J. Michael Dodson

It would be -- really for the benefit I think you are referring to the way that we defer 10%. For that to benefit gross margins it would have to a significant decrease quarter-over-quarter. So I don’t think that anything that we are talking about we are contemplating anything like that from that standpoint.

Christian Schwab- Craig-Hallum & Co.

Okay that helps. All right thank you.

J. Michael Dodson

Thanks Christian.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). This ends the Q&A for the day. I’ll turn it back to Fusen Chen for closing remarks.

Fusen Chen

Thank you for joining us for our first quarter conference call. On the investor relation front we will be presenting at the B. Riley Investor Conference in Santa Monica on May 20th. We also look forward to updating you on our progress on our next quarter's conference call. Thank you again.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen thank you for participating in today’s program. This concludes the program. You may all disconnect.

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