Seeking Alpha

Lam Research Corporation (LRCX)

  • Thu, Jul. 16, 12:40 PM
    • 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.
    | Thu, Jul. 16, 12:40 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, Jul. 14, 6:27 PM
    • At an investor meeting held at the chip industry's annual Semicon West conference, Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) provided calendar 2015/2016 revenue and EPS target ranges of $5.8B-$6.3B and $6.00-$6.75. The FY16 (ends June '16) consensus is at $5.73B and $5.78.
    • 2017 revenue/EPS target ranges are at $6.5B-$7B and $7.00-$7.75. For 2018, they're at $7B-$7.5B and $8.00-$8.75.
    • As expected, Lam continues to argue its strong exposure to chip manufacturing tech "inflections" (e.g. 3D NAND, FinFET logic ICs, DRAM multi-patterning, next-gen chip packaging) will allow it to outgrow the industry: The company forecasts a ~32% share of wafer fab equipment (WFE) spend in 2018, up from 29% in 2015 and 26.5% in 2013.
    • Lam estimates it had a high-30s 2014 share of the deposition equipment market, a low-mid 50s share of the etch equipment market, and a high-teens share of the clean equipment market. Deposition and etch share gains were recorded last year.
    • Shares rose 0.7% in regular trading, matching the Nasdaq's gain.
    • Investor meeting slides (.pdf)
    • Earlier: Applied Materials' FY18 forecasts
    | Tue, Jul. 14, 6:27 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Jul. 13, 4:32 PM
    • "When the company announced a confusing merger with Alcatel-Lucent ... we used the opportunity to exit with a healthy gain," writes David Einhorn in his Q2 letter, explaining Greenlight Capital's unloading of its Nokia (NYSE:NOK) position.
    • Regarding his decision to exit EMC, Einhorn cites "the reduced odds of any favorable change to the corporate structure and increasing concerns about a lack of growth in the storage business." EMC is 4 months removed from formally stating it doesn't plan to spin off its 80% VMware stake.
    • Regarding Marvell (NASDAQ:MRVL), a position held for years, Einhorn cites weak PC demand as a reason for exiting following a 15% compounded annual return. His disclosure comes on a day Marvell rose 5.4% thanks to a report of buyout interest from a Chinese investment firm.
    • Echoing the bullish arguments he has made for rival Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX), Einhorn says he took a small position in Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) out of a belief AMAT's core etch/deposition equipment markets will outgrow the broader chip equipment industry "due to the increased use of 'multi-patterning' to produce chips at geometries below [20nm]." He predicts results will improve as management turns its attention from the abandoned Tokyo Electron merger towards "growth and cost savings opportunities." With Einhorn's help, AMAT rose 2.9% today.
    • "It's a cyclical business and, regrettably, we missed the turn of the cycle," says Einhorn about Micron (NASDAQ:MU), Greenlight's biggest Q2 loser. However, he still thinks the DRAM industry is acting more rationally following consolidation, notes shares trade at "less than 12x annualized trough earnings and less than 5x prior peak earnings," and predicts future cycles will have higher peaks and troughs.
    • Over the long run, Einhorn expects Micron ($19.1B market cap) to be worth more than Netflix (NFLX - $42.9B market cap), whose recent surge he considers quite unjustified. "In today's market, the best performing stocks are companies with exciting stories where accountability is in the distant future." He adds Season 3 of House of Cards "appeared to be scripted to compete with Ambien,"
    • Worth noting: While Einhorn has a good track record going long, his short picks have been more hit-and-miss.
    | Mon, Jul. 13, 4:32 PM | 38 Comments
  • Tue, Apr. 21, 12:24 PM
    • ASML (ASML +1.5%), ASM International (ASMI +2.4%), Axcelis (ACLS +5.2%), and Rudolph Technologies (RTEC +2.3%) have joined Applied Materials and KLA-Tencor in trading higher after fellow chip equipment maker Lam Research (LRCX +8.2%) beat FQ3 estimates and provided strong FQ4 sales, EPS, and shipment guidance.
    • On its CC (transcript), Lam mentioned demand from DRAM clients - Axcelis has strong exposure to them - remains solid thanks to 20nm process investments, and that it expects growing 2H15 3D NAND flash investments.
    • Foundry equipment spend is expected to be down slightly Y/Y in 2015 - TSMC recently cut its capex budget - and logic spend roughly flat in spite of Intel's capex budget cut. In spite of the Intel/TSMC cuts, Lam is maintaining its general outlook for chip equipment spend.
    • CEO Martin Anstice argued Lam will be competing for over 30% of chip equipment spend by 2017 (up from 28.5% today) as tech "inflections" related to multi-patterning, 3D chips, and advanced packaging - Lam claims to have a 50%+ share in these areas - drive share gains in the broader deposition, etching, and cleaning equipment markets.
    • ASML remains below where its traded before the company slightly missed Q1 estimates, reported soft bookings (-26% Q/Q to €1.03B), and offered light Q2 guidance (revenue of €1.6B vs. a €1.69B consensus) on April 15. The photolithography equipment giant remains cautious about the adoption of EUV tools at the 10nm node (set to ramp in 2016/2017), but adds its "confidence has gone up" thanks to the improved performance of its 3300 series EUV systems.
    | Tue, Apr. 21, 12:24 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, Apr. 21, 9:22 AM
    | Tue, Apr. 21, 9:22 AM | Comment!
  • Mon, Apr. 20, 5:38 PM
    | Mon, Apr. 20, 5:38 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Apr. 20, 4:52 PM
    • In addition to beating FQ3 estimates, Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) is guiding for FQ4 revenue of $1.46B (+/- $50M) and EPS of $1.46 (+- $0.07), above a consensus of $1.39B and $1.35.
    • Shipments are expected to rise to $1.6B (+/- $50M) from FQ3's $1.497B (+20% Q/Q and topping a guidance midpoint of $1.45B). CEO Martin Anstice sings a well-known refrain. "Our differentiated products and services are directly addressing the market driving technology inflections of multi-patterning, 3D device architecture and advanced packaging."
    • The deferred revenue balance rose 30% Q/Q to $485.2M. Gross margin (non-GAAP) fell 70 bps Q/Q and 80 bps Y/Y to 44.7%. Operating expenses rose 11% Y/Y to $355M. $124.9M was spent on buybacks.
    • Shares have risen to $77.52 AH; the all-time high is $85.70. Goldman's table-pounding was well-timed.
    • Peers are getting a lift: Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) is up 1.6% AH to $22.11, and KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC) is up 1.1% to $59.20. KLA reports on Thursday.
    • FQ3 results, PR
    | Mon, Apr. 20, 4:52 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Apr. 20, 4:08 PM
    • Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX): FQ3 EPS of $1.40 beats by $0.10.
    • Revenue of $1.39B (+13.0% Y/Y) beats by $20M.
    • Shares +5%.
    • Press Release
    | Mon, Apr. 20, 4:08 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Apr. 14, 5:23 PM
    • Intel has used its Q1 report to cut its 2015 capex budget by $1.3B to $8.7B (+/- $500M). The midpoint of the guidance range implies a 14% drop from a 2014 level of $10.1B, which itself was below 2011-2013 levels of $10.7B-$11B.
    • Several chip equipment makers are lower AH in response. Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) -1.4%. KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC) -1.5%. Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) -1.4%. Kulicke & Soffa (NASDAQ:KLIC) -0.8%.
    • In January, TSMC set an aggressive 2015 capex budget of $11.5B-$12B; Samsung is also expected to spend heavily this year. Between them, Intel, TSMC, and Samsung account for roughly half of all chip equipment capex.
    | Tue, Apr. 14, 5:23 PM | Comment!
  • Mon, Apr. 6, 2:34 PM
    • Though "there has been a steady stream of cautious news from the semi sector over the past few weeks," there has also been positive news for Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX), argues Goldman's James Covello, reiterating a Conviction Buy and $91 target in response to Lam's March selloff.
    • Specifically, Covello notes chip equipment giant Tokyo Electron (set to merge with Applied Materials, regulators willing) has pre-announced strong sales, and that Disco (a Japanese chip equipment firm that sells to Lam's top customers) posted better-than-expected earnings.
    • Aside from the Japanese news, which Covello thinks helps offset negative news from Intel, Micron, SanDisk, and TSMC, Lam is expected to benefit from a 2H15 pickup from NAND flash clients (ramping 3D NAND investments). Cowen argued last week Lam and Applied Materials would benefit as 3D NAND manufacturing cost declines compelled manufacturers to boost their investments. "We believe that NAND revenues for LRCX could potentially increase by 3x (or $1.5 bn per year) as 3D NAND accelerates."
    | Mon, Apr. 6, 2:34 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Mar. 25, 12:03 PM
    • 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.
    | Wed, Mar. 25, 12:03 PM | 19 Comments
  • Fri, Mar. 20, 12:55 PM
    • Believing the company will offer soft FQ4 (June quarter) guidance to go with its April FQ3 report, Needham's Edwin Mok has cut his Lam Research (LRCX -0.2%) target by $2 to $93, while reiterating a Buy. Longer-term, he still expects Lam to perform well thanks to a 2H15 sales pickup driven by the company's strong exposure to FinFET (3D transistor) and 3D NAND process investments.
    • Meanwhile, Mok has downgraded Ultra Clean (UCTT -8.6%) to Hold, citing expectations "for a weaker 2Q15 in the SemiCap space and the lack of growth driver for the year." He sees DRAM push-outs hurting Q2 sales, and thinks efforts to win new business will take time to bear fruit.
    • Lam is missing out on a market rally, while Ultra Clean is off sharply. Lam sold off on Wednesday after JPMorgan reported Samsung is slowing the pace of its DRAM investments. Mok downgraded chip manufacturing materials supplier Cabot Microelectronics on Monday.
    | Fri, Mar. 20, 12:55 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Mar. 18, 11:16 AM
    • 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.
    • Yesterday: Micron drops on RBC target cut
    | Wed, Mar. 18, 11:16 AM | 2 Comments
  • Nov. 24, 2014, 12:26 PM
    • Citing stronger-than-expected DRAM demand, a $1B buyback, the Inotera JV's Q3 results, and a weak yen, Goldman's James Covello has hiked his Micron (MU +1.8%) target by $3 to $32, albeit while reiterating a Neutral.
    • SanDisk (SNDK +1.9%), which receives a favorable mention in Covello's note, is also outperforming. As is chip equipment maker Lam Research (LRCX +2.8%), which has considerable DRAM/NAND exposure and has seen its target hiked by $6 to $91. The Nasdaq is up 0.7%.
    • Covello: "We are now modeling about 1% DRAM undersupply in 2015 (from balanced prior) ... Our new content estimates for phones, tablets and servers are now all modestly above third party forecasts to better reflect this."
    • Nonetheless, Covello remains more partial to SanDisk, due to a belief the DRAM industry's EBIT margins (among the highest in the chip industry) are unsustainable. "We expect excess returns to continue to attract supply (creating upside risk to our 2015 base case supply estimate of 25% yoy) ... DRAM capex is up about 40% yoy in 2014E and tracking higher in 2015E." Bulls are counting on industry consolidation to keep a lid on supply growth.
    | Nov. 24, 2014, 12:26 PM | 8 Comments
  • Oct. 22, 2014, 5:04 PM
    • Though it beat FQ1 EPS estimates and posted in-line revenue, Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX) is guiding for FQ2 revenue of $1.23B (+/- $50M) and EPS of $1.12 (+/- $0.07), unfavorable to a consensus of $1.25B and $1.16. Shipments are expected to total $1.24B (+/- $50M).
    • Gross margin rose 140 bps Y/Y in FQ1 to 43.9%, and op. margin 420 bps to 14.6%. A GM of 45.5% (+/- 1%) is expected in seasonally strong FQ2.
    • Shipment growth by geography: U.S. (inc. Intel) +25%, Korea (inc. Samsung/SK Hynix) +16%, Taiwan (inc. TSMC) +21%, Japan +11%, China +8%, SE Asia +11%, Europe +8%.
    • FQ1 results, PR
    | Oct. 22, 2014, 5:04 PM | Comment!
  • Oct. 10, 2014, 9:59 AM
    • Microchip's (MCHP -12.5%) calendar Q3 warning, which was accompanied by a declaration that it believes "another industry correction has begun and that this correction will be seen more broadly across the industry in the near future," is taking a heavy toll on chip stocks (SOXX -5.5%).
    • Intel (INTC -4.2%) and many other chipmakers have joined the several firms that sold off AH yesterday in going in the same direction as Microchip: MU -5.8%. FSL -8.5%. BRCM -3.6%. SWKS -7.5%. RFMD -6.2%. XLNX -4.9%. MXIM -5%. AMBA -5.5%. IDTI -6.7%. CAVM -7.4%. AVGO -10.2%. SMTC -4.3%. SYNA -4.1%. POWI -6.9%.
    • Chip equipment makers are also getting hit: AMAT -3.5%. KLAC -3.3%. LRCX -2.3%. UTEK -2.5%. KLIC -2%.
    • As Microchip noted in yesterday's warning, the company's very diversified customer base, together with its recognition of distributor revenue on a customer sell-through basis rather than a distributor sell-in basis, often allow it to see industry changes before peers.
    • The microcontroller vendor added its warning was driven by a September decline in sales to Chinese clients, and observed it has typically "returned to sequential revenue growth after two quarters" during past downturns.
    • Chip stocks have had a good run over the last 12 months, aided by healthy mobile demand and the industry's consolidation wave.
    | Oct. 10, 2014, 9:59 AM | 39 Comments
LRCX vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description
Lam Research Corp is a supplier of wafer fabrication equipment and services to the semiconductor industry.