Chinese P-E firm E-Town Dragon (focuses on chip industry investments) is buying Mattson Technology (NASDAQ:MTSN) for $300M, or $3.80/share, in cash. The price represents a 23% premium to the chip equipment maker's Tuesday close, but is below a 52-week high of $5.10.
The deal, the latest in a string of Chinese purchases of Western semi assets, is expected to close in Q1 2016, provided shareholders and regulators approve. Mattson is up 17.7% premarket to $3.65.
Up yesterday in response to Intel's flash manufacturing plans, chip equipment makers are higher today after Lam Research (LRCX +5.6%) announced it's buying KLA-Tencor (KLAC +22.5%) for $10.6B, with the goal of creating an industry giant on par with Applied Materials (AMAT +1%).
In addition to Lam, KLA, and Applied, gainers include ASML (ASML +2.3%), Kulicke & Soffa (KLIC +2.9%), Teradyne (TER +4.6%), Mattson (MTSN +2.6%), and Xcerra (XCRA +2.3%). Ahead of the deal announcement, Tokyo Electron (OTCPK:TOELF) rose 4% in Tokyo, aided by the Intel news and a rally in Japanese equities.
Lam/KLA assert the deal combines "Lam's best-in-class capabilities in deposition, etch, and clean [equipment] with KLA-Tencor's leadership in inspection and metrology." Gartner estimates Lam and KLA respectively had 9.4% and 6.4% of the 2013 chip equipment market. Applied (competes with both KLA and Lam) had 16.2%, ASML (dominant in lithography) 15.7%, and Tokyo 9.1%.
Lam is paying the equivalent of $32/share in cash and 0.5 shares (current value of $37) for each KLA share. It plans to finance the deal with $1.9B in cash on hand from both companies, and $3.9B in debt. KLA shareholders can elect to be paid solely in cash, solely in stock, or through a mixture of cash and stock.
The deal is expected to close in mid-2016. Lam CEO Martin Anstice will run the combined firm.
Applied Materials (AMAT -3.6%), ASML (ASML -4.9%), Lam Research (LRCX -4.2%), KLA-Tencor (KLAC -4.4%), Ultratech (UTEK -4.8%), Rudolph (RTEC -3.1%), Mattson (MTSN -2.4%), Advantest (ATE -2.6%), Teradyne (TER -0.9%), and Kulicke & Soffa (KLIC -1.2%) are lower (in spite of a 1.1% Nasdaq gain) after Intel cut its capex budget for the third time this year, this time by $1B to $7.7B (+/- $500M). The chip giant spent $10.1B on capex in 2014, and $10.7B-$11B in 2011-2013.
Also: Intel disclosed it now expects to bring its first 10nm CPUs to market in 2H17, breaking with its historical 2-year manufacturing process upgrade pace and leading some to wonder if Moore's Law is proving harder to maintain. Intel's first 14nm CPUs (based on the Broadwell architecture) arrived last September.
Separately, TSMC (cut its capex budget in April) provided cautious remarks about global chip demand. The world's biggest foundry expects 3% 2015 chip industry growth and 6%-10% foundry market growth.
The selloff comes shortly after Applied and Lam provided aggressive 3-year EPS growth targets (I, II) at investor meetings held during the chip industry's Semicon West conference. ASML rallied yesterday following a Q2 beat and positive 2H15 outlook.
Chip stocks are particularly hard-hit (SOXX -3.6%) on a rough day for tech. The Nasdaq is down 1.3%, and the S&P 0.7%. Going into today, good earnings reports and ongoing M&A activity had led the Philadelphia Semi Index to rise 10% from its Jan. 30 close; the index remains up nearly 2x from its fall 2012 lows.
AMD (AMD -7.2%) is a major decliner following a UBS downgrade. AMD rival/GPU giant Nvidia (NVDA -5.2%) and memory giant Micron (MU -3.7%) are also selling off, as are merger partners NXP (NXPI -3.8%) and Freescale (FSL -3.4%), RF chipmakers Avago (AVGO -5.2%), Skyworks (SWKS -5.3%), and Qorvo (QRVO -7.1%), LED/RF chipmaker Cree (CREE -4.1%), and high-flying video processor developer Ambarella (AMBA -4.3%).
Other decliners include telecom chipmakers/ARM server CPU vendors Cavium (CAVM -4.8%) and AppliedMicro (AMCC -4.4%), microcontroller vendors Atmel (ATML -3.5%), Cypress (CY -5.5%), and STMicroelectronics (STM -3.5%), voice processor developer Audience (ADNC -3.7%), analog/mixed-signal chipmakers Linear (LLTC -3.7%), Maxim (MXIM -3%), and Intersil (ISIL -3.5%), FPGA maker Lattice (LSCC -3.9%), and mixed-signal/wireless charging IC developer IDT (IDTI -5.4%).
Chip equipment, IP, and foundry providers are also underperforming. Big decliners include ARM (ARMH -4.4%), KLA-Tencor (KLAC -4.2%), Lam Research (LRCX -5.4%), ASML (ASML -4.1%), TowerJazz (TSEM -4.3%), Mattson (MTSN -4.5%), Ultratech (UTEK -4.7%), and Tessera (TSRA -6.1%). ASML has been downgraded to Hold by Banco Santander.
TSMC (TSM -4.6%) is among the decliners in spite of a Digitimes report stating the foundry giant's sales are expected to rise 0%-5% Q/Q in Q2 - consensus is for a 2% drop - with strong Apple A8 CPU orders offsetting soft Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 orders.
JPMorgan reports Samsung is slowing down the pace of its DRAM capacity ramp. The firm reiterates an Overweight rating and $40 target on Micron (MU +0.8%), whose shares have been hit more than once by Samsung spending fears.
While Micron edges higher, chip equipment maker Lam Research (LRCX -4.3%), which has considerable DRAM exposure, is selling off. Mattson (MTSN -11.8%), Aixtron (AIXG -1.9%), and Axcelis (ACLS -1.1%), other equipment makers that have DRAM exposure, are also lower. Mattson dived around 11AM after initially posting moderate losses.
Lam, a David Einhorn favorite, offered upbeat commentary about 2015 DRAM capex on its FQ2 CC (transcript), and noted 30% industry bit growth is expected this year.
Also: 1) Drexel Hamilton has made upbeat comments about DRAM demand after talking with an unnamed Asian memory maker; the firm expects mobile DRAM demand to restore a supply/demand balance later this year. 2) Jefferies (Buy) has cut its Micron target by $5 to $40, predicting Q1 DRAM pricing weakness will continue into Q2 due soft PC demand, before smartphone demand and "corrective actions on the supply side" lead prices to stabilize.