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Mattson Technology (NASDAQ:MTSN)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

April 27, 2011 5:30 pm ET

Executives

Laura Guerrant-Oiye -

Andrew Moring - Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer, Executive Vice President of Finance and Secretary

David Dutton - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Analysts

Patrick Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Mattson First Quarter Financial Results Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Mr. Laura Guerrant from Investor Relations. Ms. Guerrant, you may begin.

Laura Guerrant-Oiye

Thank you, Patrick, and good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today to discuss Mattson Technology's financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2011, which ended April 3. In addition to outlining the company's financial results for the quarter, we will also provide guidance for the second quarter of fiscal 2011. On today's call are Dave Dutton, Mattson Technology's President and Chief Executive Officer; and Andy Moring, the company's Chief Financial Officer.

Before turning the call over to Dave, 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, revenue, margins, earnings per share, tax rate 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.

On another note, the management of Mattson Technology will be participating in the Credit Suisse Semicap Conference in Boston on May 11, the SRA conference in San Francisco on May 24, the Craig-Hallum Midwest Forum in Minneapolis on June 1, and we'll be participating in the CEO Summit on July 13 during SEMICON West. Additionally, the company will be hosting the 2011 Analyst Event at the company's headquarters on Wednesday, May 18. We look forward to seeing many of you at the event

And with that, I'll turn the call over to Dave. Dave?

David Dutton

Thank you, Laura, and good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining our first quarter 2011 financial results conference call. I would like to provide an outline for today's call. First, I will give you an overview of the business. Then Andy will provide the financial results. And last, I will close with our business outlook and guidance.

Q1 2011 marked our 8th consecutive quarter of growth, one in which we grew at a robust rate of 14% over Q4 2010, driven by a record Etch order and continued strength from our Foundry Strip business. According to Gartner, in 2010, Mattson Technology system revenue grew over 330%. The fastest rate of any of our direct competitors and more than twice that of the industry average. In addition, Etch and Strip also grew several times over 2009 levels due to the share gains and market recovery. In fact, according to Gartner, all 3 of Mattson Technology's product areas significantly outgrew the industry in 2010 and we expect this trajectory of outpacing industry growth will continue through 2011.

We also achieved several important accomplishments in expanding our product positions. During the first quarter, we booked and shipped our largest Etch order ever, the result of extending into new applications, which effectively doubles our available application set. The paradigmE system is now in volume production for DRAM and the NAND fabs. To build upon our growth in strip, we introduced the SUPREMA XP5, a streamlined, more efficient yet significantly higher throughput strip system. In RTP, our Millios millisecond anneal system is shipping this quarter to a major customer for 16-nanometer and below processes. Few companies, if any, have organically expanded into highly competitive areas such as Etch, while still driving growth in their core products. Compared to other companies that have recently attempted to enter the Etch market, we have achieved significantly better results with far less of an investment. A bold move of this nature requires investments in R&D and technology, which can be at the expense of profits. This is a strategic decision that we made, knowing that for a period of time, we would be in essence be somewhat akin to a start-up in the Etch market.

In the first quarter, we managed to reduce outbacks by 5%, while achieving double-digit growth. As we exited this product start-up phase, we will expect improving gross margins will drive more earnings per revenue dollar compared to any other point in the customers history.

At Mattson Technology, our thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Japan as they recover from the tragedy that struck the country's northern region in March of 2011. Across the globe, our employees have responded with donations to help aid the recovery in Japan. From a business perspective, we have maintained close contact with our suppliers and our supply chain has not been materially impacted by this crisis. Our customers in the affected zone of Japan have moved from the assessment phase and we are providing support and service along with our partner, Canon Marketing Japan to bring our customers' fabs back to pre-incident production levels.

Mattson Technology remains committed to providing our long-term support to those impacted by this historic tragedy to the recovery and rebuilding phase.

Now let me give a brief update on our product portfolio starting with our strategic expansion deeper into Etch, while delivering at the very leading edge of DRAM and NAND. We are increasingly addressing a larger set of the overall Etch market and have doubled the application set we serve. Just one year ago, we were addressing roughly 25% of the Etch market, now our systems are addressing over 35% of a $4.6 billion market. This is a huge opportunity and as evidenced by our success in the first quarter, we are succeeding in this critical effort. We booked and shipped a record revenue level for our paradigmE Etch tools as a result of our successful penetration into NAND. And in Q1 2011, contributed over 1/3 of Mattson Technology total system revenue, up from 30% in the fourth quarter. We also received a repeat order for our Alpine Etch system from a major North American semiconductor manufacturer for advanced packaging applications.

In 2010, Mattson Technology grew strip over 500% on a year-over-year basis and we gained share. We shipped our strip tools to 3 of the 4 top foundries, keeping its aggressive growth pace from 2010. During the quarter, the demand for both Suprema and the legacy Aspen III Strip products remained very strong as foundry customers used both strip products extensively. Leveraging the success of the Suprema, we introduced the SUPREMA XP5, which provides our customers up to 50% throughput increase at lower cost and footprint, further extending our leadership in the strip market.

As the device geometry shrink, the sheer density increases the problems related to the heating of adjacent features and create what is known as thermal pattern loading. This problem is prevalent in logic devices due to the non-uniformative patterns versus the repetitive memory array. Mattson Technology's Helios XP addresses this leading-edge challenge for our foundry customers through our unique technology that is available in our standard chamber and at our leading cost of ownership. This technology has enabled us to expand into 3 foundries with expected volume production in the second half of 2011. In addition, we are scheduled to ship our Millios millisecond anneal system to a logic manufacturer for sub 20-nanometer development in the second quarter, marking our third customer win for this emerging technology.

With our expansion into critical new segments well underway, Mattson Technology is now a newly defined and focused company with a new baseline of products and customers. We have established a new and growing position in the over $4 billion Etch market. We expanded our products and custom portfolios and collectively, our Helios XP, Suprema, Millios and paradigmE systems has successfully penetrated the foundry, NAND and DRAM markets. And we have streamlined and structured the company for future financial growth. Reducing our operating expenditures to a level 25% lower than in 2007. Based on these successes, we have furthered our technology leadership and are well-positioned to outpace the industry's growth in 2011.

Now I'll turn the call over to Andy to provide the financial update. Andy?

Andrew Moring

Thank you, Dave. As we stated on the last call, 2010 was the year we positioned our new product portfolio and 2011 will be the year where we focus on financial and operational improvement. We have already made some solid gains in this area. In the first quarter, we had our eighth consecutive quarter of sequential growth in revenue, our loss from operations declined by $2.5 million quarter-over-quarter and we are able to grow cash as we continue to effectively manage working capital. During the quarter, we lowered operating expenses despite the ramp in revenue, continuing our solid expense management performance.

Operationally, we announced our largest Etch order ever and all of these tools have shipped in the first quarter. We have been shipping Etch production tools for revenue for over a year now and have a substantial installed base of these tools worldwide. Now to a more detailed look at our financial results for the first quarter.

Net sales were $47 million, up 14% from the fourth quarter of 2010. Our revenue exceeded $47 million for the first time since early 2008 further evidence that we have recovered from the steep downturn we experienced for the last 3 years. We are now at a revenue run rate that would give us substantial growth for 2011, relative to both 2010 and our competition. The business continues to be broad-based and capacity driven as we shipped equipment to multiple customers including logic, Foundry and memory facilities.

During the first quarter, we continued to sell our Etch products into customer production facilities as we booked and shipped the large order we announced in March. We have now recognized revenue for a significant number of paradigmE and Alpine Etch tools, and our new Etch market comprises over 1/3 of the company system sales.

Gross margin for the first quarter was 30%, about the same as the fourth quarter results. During the quarter, we shipped as many of our lower margin Aspen III strip tools to one of our customers as we did in all of 2010. Although we would prefer to sell our Suprema strip tool to this customer, we will continue to support their current needs by providing this previously qualified equipment despite the impact to our margins. The mix of Aspen III strip products in the first quarter resulted in lower margins of about 4 percentage points. We also experienced the impact of the accounting deferral of approximately 10% of revenue that represents installation services that we do not recognize until the product is installed at the customers facilities. In periods where our revenue ramps, we will have more current quarter revenue deferrals and can be offset by installations that signed off from the previous quarter. In the first quarter, the imbalance between deferrals and acceptances unfavorably impacted us by another 2 margin points. If we did not have the combined impact of these 2 factors, our margins for the quarter would have been about 36%.

In addition, the strengthening of the euro and one-time charges for overruns and warranty expenses for new products had unfavorable impacts to the results. We anticipate that the lower gross margin performance due to the product mix will continue in the short term until we see a more normal distribution of all of our products brought about by the opening of customer greenfield facilities later in the year.

Operating expenses for the first quarter were $19 million, down about 5% from the fourth quarter results despite an unfavorable impact caused by the strengthening euro on our German operations. We continue to effectively manage our operating expenses. By comparison, during the same quarter of 2008, with roughly the same revenue levels that we are at now, OpEx was about 30% higher than it is currently. As you know, Mattson Technology has a manufacturing, engineering and administrative facility in Germany supporting our RTP business. The euro strengthened during the first quarter relative to the dollar by about 7%, which resulted in unfavorable P&L impacts to cost of sales and operating expenses.

In addition, the required accounting revaluation of certain balance sheet accounts are also charged to the P&L in the interest and other income and expense category. This category had $1.5 million of unfavorable adjustments primarily a result of the euro revaluation. These adjustments are largely non-cash. The currency adjustment in other income and expense were partially offset by a favorable tax benefit of $300,000, primarily due to the release of a reserve position in one of our foreign entities.

The first quarter GAAP loss was $6.3 million or $0.12 loss per share, compared to a GAAP loss of $7.9 million or $0.16 loss per share in the previous quarter. Operating losses, which exclude the interest and other income and expense and tax benefit adjustments were $5.1 million, an improvement of $2.5 million over fourth quarter results.

Cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments and restricted cash at the end of the first quarter were $24.4 million, an improvement of $1.4 million from the fourth quarter, indicating that our working capital management is improving. During the quarter, we were able to grow cash despite a 14% growth in revenue and the slight operating loss.

Working capital was $48 million at the end of the quarter, a slight reduction from the fourth quarter. We are closely managing all of our working capital accounts to maintain effective liquidity, as well as maintaining our usual tight controls over spending.

To summarize, in the first quarter, we experienced our eighth consecutive quarter of sequential growth in our business. We lowered expenses despite the impact of the strengthening euro. We effectively grew our cash position despite the demands that the 14% revenue ramp and continue our attention to detail on working capital management. We showed continued momentum in our Etch business, which is vital to our growth strategy. Our P&L performance will continue to be a top priority throughout the year as we improved the operating performance of the company. We are confident at Mattson Technology's strategy and new market positions and we will be driving hard to achieve the profitability expectations.

Now I will turn the call over to Dave, who will provide second quarter guidance and elaborate further on Mattson Technology's business results and prospects. Dave?

David Dutton

Thanks, Andy. Our guidance for the second quarter of 2011 is as follows: we expect second quarter revenues to be in the range of $43 to $51 million. We expect margins to continue to be in the range of 28% to 32% due to the continued impact of the Aspen III business, which remains at elevated volumes through the second quarter. Earnings will be in the range of a loss per share of $0.14 to a loss per share of $0.08. We are guiding cash balances in excess of $24 million.

For Mattson Technology, we are forecasting the first half of 2011 to be up by 20% versus the second half of 2010 as our growth builds from the positions, which we strategically invested in 2010. Greenfield fabs will drive our continued growth due to our incremental new product positions in Etch and RTP. We believe that Mattson Technology will benefit from the improved global economic environment and our strengthened product portfolio.

We are achieving growth over 2010, while tightly controlling OpEx and believe that we will continue to outpace the industry's growth due to our new product positions, which will become incremental revenue generators as we progress into the second half of 2011. As our new products expand, the impact of our legacy products will be reduced. And along with moving beyond the start-up pains of the Etch business, we are confident our product margins will hit our target model. Through an innovative strategy, a lot of hard work and certainly some pain, we have positioned Mattson Technology to leverage its recovery fully and outgrow the industry in 2011 as we did in 2010.

And with that, I'd like to thank you very much for listening to our business and financial updates. We are now open for your questions, operator?

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Edwin Mok. [Needham & Company]

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

So the first question I have is, a few of your peers including Novellus, Axcelis, just reported now sort of last week. Just talk about some pushouts at several major customer. I'm just wondering if you guys seen some more pushout when in discussion with your customers? And I'll have a follow-up regarding your guidance.

David Dutton

And I think what we -- so far what we feel is first half, we really haven't seen pushouts but what we've seen is, I think in a sense with the Japan earthquake, is a little bit of a hesitation or pause in our customers' thinking about what they're doing as what the ramp rate will be looking at these new greenfield fabs that start late in the -- kind of or starting now, really later in the second quarter and beyond. So we talked about, last quarter, we saw some pushout out of the fourth quarter due to DRAM. First half of the year, we feel pretty solid and then looking into the second half, it's just too early to tell.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great. Helpful on that. So on the guidance, I think, guidance is seen to be flat, it feels kind of better than most of your peers. I just wondering what is your driver for that in terms of the 3 piece of your business? Strip, Alpine, Etch, which area do you think you have growth versus I imagined given that you have such a large Etch order in the first quarter, you might drop a little bit in the second quarter?

David Dutton

,

Actually, we see both Etch and Strip are growing through the first half of the year, in fact, realistically both of those are running where by the middle of the year, they'll almost be at the combined total of 2010 and our RTP is remaining a little more flat as it's a DRAM-centric product still.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

I see. Is that the reason why you guys is still guiding for, you call it, flattish gross margin because of these product, [indiscernible] looks like a low margins?

David Dutton

Yes, there's kind of 2 reasons. One, the RTP is, as I said, DRAM-centric and that is a very strong technology product and the Aspen III that Andy talked about a little more detail. Also, he mentioned in the first quarter, we shipped as many as we did all of 2010, and the second quarter has a pretty strong volume as well. In fact, slightly up. So our customers really enjoys that product for some specific areas and we are obviously going to support them. But it is a very high cost product to make.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great, it's very helpful. And for, Andy, some question around that, on the offering expense, I think, last quarter you guys guided towards down around 10% sequentially and probably the higher euro expense and comps make that down more like 5% this first quarter. Can I ask, is all your cost cutting measure behind you and can we kind of just assume you're running at this similar $19 million level going forward and how do you think about that?

Andrew Moring

Yes, you're exactly right. We did project that we would have a little bit better results, although we were down 5% and quite happy with that result. We were offset by the euro. The euro as you know, strengthened 7% and that had quite a large impact since probably 1/3 of our operating expenses are out of the German facility. So that was a bit of a setback to us. As far as going forward, we will always look for continued opportunities to drive down expenses, I would expect, we, in the short-term will keep at this level, maybe even a little bit lower but we would not expect to see these levels go up by any way, shape, or form.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great, it's very helpful. And then one question on the deferred revenue, it looks like it's pretty big, around 10% of the total revenue. So I imagine that's $4.5 to $5 million kind of like that. Do you expect some of the deferred revenue in the coming quarter or do you expect that deferred revenue start going down?

Andrew Moring

Well, the rule of thumb on our systems revenue about 10% gets deferred. The difference is always how much of the deferred revenue from previous quarters we can turn back into revenue in the current quarter. And as I said, on a ramp situation, you're sort of chasing the tail a little bit. But we would expect probably a similar amount of deferred revenue in the second quarter. Hopefully, we will offset that with as much previously deferred revenue as possible to offset those numbers. In the first quarter, it was quite a large differential, which like I said had have about a 2% impact on the margins.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great, very helpful. And one last question on, circling back on Etch right? Good penetration on the NAND, as well as the second shipment of Aspen or the Aspen III. I was just curious, because of the NAND opportunity, with this first shipment starting, do you expect that ramp to continue for the year or that's just a one-time order and customer will try it out before they move on with more purchases?

David Dutton

Edwin, thanks, again, the congratulations there because we were really proud of expanding into NAND. And no, it's not a one-time deal. So we expect NAND proliferation over Etch to continue throughout the year and to continue to grow. And as we've always said, our focus has been to continue to extend further into Etch. I think you're seeing evidence of that, even if you look at some the reported numbers, we grew and where we initially penetrated into Etch, which is the dielectric area. But this year was the first time we also started to report some silicon Etch area revenue as well. So our group here continues to expand applications and provide the benefits we give in Etch to our customers in a broader area, and that's key to our plan to continue to grow strongly ahead of the market moving forward.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company, LLC

Great. I think that's all I have. Oh, one last question, did your account spare [ph] and service revenue grew in the last quarter?

Andrew Moring

I believe it was flat with the previous quarters, not anything large as far as the variance from quarter-over-quarter.

Operator

Our next question comes from Patrick Ho from Stifel, Nicolaus.

Patrick Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Dave, can you give a little more color in terms of just some commentary you just gave in terms of the pushouts? Can you give a little bit of color in terms of memory versus foundry and what their sentiment or what their discussions with you have been in terms of the current landscape? And as you mentioned, I think, I want to use the correct the word, you said, a slight hesitation near term. Does that hesitation become just a one quarter phenomenon or is it potentially something that could impact the second half of the year?

David Dutton

What we're seeing is, so we're going on to each area. I think DRAM first of all, as we mentioned last quarter, we saw DRAM spending drop off. And frankly, for us, we believe DRAMs spending really stays pretty tepid through the rest of this year. Looking at NAND, we think NAND spending is just starting with some of the bigger, what we call, greenfield projects and those have begun and we are seeing shipments into those already. And so I think in regards to the -- and then on foundry, what we've seen is still for us, from our viewpoint, pretty aggressive spending through the first half of the year on already committed projects and where I talk about the pause to me really potentially affects more the early part of the second half but all the indications are, if there's any pause, it is like a couple of month type of hesitation. And so we think the second half, if it starts a little slow, well, kind of like March, the reverse of March, it will start like a lamb and end like a lion is really the viewpoint we're seeing right now.

Patrick Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Okay, great. Maybe just a little bit of color, I know you don't want to get customer specific but maybe you could get a little bit technology specific. In terms of the Aspen III that your shipping to this customer, are they for capacity buys at the, say, 65-nanometer node or are they for some of their leading edge both the 4x and 2x nodes?

David Dutton

Pat, I can put it this way, I'm happy and sad to report that they're for all of what you said.

Patrick Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Okay, got you. Just turning to some of the other items and maybe, Andy, if you can just give a little bit of color on this. Going into the March quarter, your expectations for the euro and I think you mentioned that it was up 7%. If you had normalized it from the beginning of the quarter, where you had expected it to be, what would it been that kind of interest income line?

Andrew Moring

Well, as I said, the interest income and expense line was primarily a result of the euro, so the total expense that we incurred in there was $1.5 million. So if we have had a, basically a flat scenario, we would have probably had only $300,000 of expenses in that line, which is more normal. And that would have been pretty much offset by the tax adjustment that we took.

Patrick Ho - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

That's all I was asking for just to do an apples-to-apples basis. And finally, maybe final question on the Etch and paradigmE. Obviously, one customer has adopted this into its volume production, can you give a little bit of color, Dave, maybe in terms of the efforts in trying to expand into other customers with the paradigmE specifically, and what type of applications that you're working on with these other potential new customers?

David Dutton

Yes, Patrick, I'll try and give some color, I don't want to get too specific for customer and competitive reasons. But as we've already mentioned, the paradigmE is engaged at other customers. If you look on the logic foundry kind of side, it's more oxide Etch and if you look on NAND, it's more silicon Etch towards sort some oxide Etch and then DRAM is oxide Etch as well. So to flavor that way, we're engaged with a couple more customers tools haven't shipped yet. But we continue with a lot of pressure to get those to turn into volume and it just -- Etch, especially being even with our success, turning Etch into volume production takes a little more time than our RTP or Strip and it is already though qualified and like I said, it's in volume production, in DRAM and NAND and we expect soon to be, have, see volume production in more foundry environment as well.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Ben Pang from Caris & Company.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

First on the Aspen, you've commented that the customer that was taking that, was taking it for various technologies, et cetera. Is the throughput advantage on your new Strip product is still not good enough to convert them over?

David Dutton

Actually the throughput advantage is very strong versus the Aspen III but our customer has some very unique processes they use with the Aspen III. It works very well, it's a workhorse for them, and they're just too busy to really look at requalifying a different technology.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

I assume since there are so few customers ordering, I'm thinking it's one of these things that this is likely a customer that will be around for a while. What would be the next opportunity to switch them over and if you don't, does the margin just continue to hit the company?

David Dutton

Well, it fairly goes in phases. Right now, we're seeing a pretty, again, the large volumes that we think starts to drop off as we look in the second half, there's definitely 2 focus going on. One is working to bring more of that capability with our customer on the Suprema. And secondly, there is an effort on how do we bring costs down on the Aspen III and gain any margin point we can. So there has been activity there. We expect it. I think, most that won't see results on the current ramp that's going through the first half of the year. But in the second half, we expect to see some level of gain on the Aspen III.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

Okay. And then moving on to the Etch, you commented, you booked and shipped the order in the first quarter, correct?

David Dutton

Yes.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

And what -- is the margin profile on that particular business better than your corporate average?

David Dutton

Yes.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

So what do you -- I mean, I guess, going forward, do we look at the Etch product as also being a turned business for you guys?

David Dutton

No, I don't think you'll see it'll be a turned business but in this industry, essentially, the leading customers order to -- book and ship, it's a very tight window and that's why we have to keep a close relationship and work closely with them on a forecast system. And so going forward, we still expect our Etch to grow in margins. I mean, I mentioned in there, we're still what we view as a start-up mode. We're still aggressive about that, we're still doing a lot of R&D and, for example, to move into those new application set, takes a lot of -- there's different things we had to do with the tool. A lot of new processes developed in a short time and with moving the tools out there as extra support is docile, and Etch is still in a growth phase and still does have some extra cost to it that I think as we really start to move into higher volumes throughout the year and into next year, Etch will really become a very good producer for the company.

Benedict Pang - Caris & Company

Okay. And my final question back to the industry, the overall industry, is there any change on your viewpoint for what wafer fab equipment or capital spending is for the full year?

David Dutton

No, we think pretty much we stated before that the overall industry I think has been projected somewhat, we kind of picked from all the different forecast about a 10% to 15% level and we think it's still in that range.

Operator

I will now like to turn it back over to Mr. Dutton for closing remarks.

David Dutton

All right. Thank you, and once again for joining our first quarter 2011 conference call. We look forward to seeing you at our Analyst Event at our headquarters on May 18 and updating you on the progress in our next quarter's conference call. Thank you very much. Operator?

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for participating in today's program. This concludes the program, you may all disconnect.

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