Chip equipment roundup: AMAT bulls, KLAC caution, 3D NAND, SEMI forecast

|By:, SA News Editor

Applied Materials (AMAT) "made a compelling case that technology inflections could become tailwinds [for chip equipment demand] at the FinFET and 3D NAND transitions," writes Credit Suisse's John Pitzer after taking in the firm's analyst day (held at the Semicon West conference).

Pitzer adds AMAT sees $10B+ in cumulative revenue opportunities from the deposition and etching markets related to 3D NAND flash investments. However, he thinks Lam Research (LRCX), which just offered a bullish analyst day outlook of its own, is a better 3D NAND play.

Cowen's Timothy Arcuri argues strong FinFET (3D transistor) and 3D NAND capacity targets, together with healthy maintenance spend, "argues more re-rating for AMAT and the sector in general." At the same time, he's worried about the impact of 3D NAND growth on NAND supply, and thus the multiples afforded to SanDisk (SNDK), which has rallied strongly this year.

AMAT remains confident the Tokyo Electron (TOELF) merger will close this year. The post-merger company will call itself Eteris. Analyst Robert Maire thinks AMAT/Tokyo will buy Entegris (ENTG) once the deal closes.

KLA-Tencor (KLAC), though hiking its June quarter guidance, is a little cautious about near-term demand. "This is a quarter where we believe we're in a bit of a pause right now in the industry ... Bookings that we got, while strong, were really for foundry, and more for delivery and revenues that we'll see in calendar '15." Berenberg issued a cautious note last week.

Trade group SEMI now expects total chip equipment spend to grow 20.8% in 2014 to $38.4B, and 10.8% in 2015 to $42.6B.

Other industry names: ASML, UTEK, RTEC, KLIC, MTSN, ASMI, MKSI