Mattson Technology Inc. CEO Discusses Q3 2010 Earnings - Call Transcript

| About: Mattson Technology, (MTSN)
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Mattson Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MTSN) Q3 2010 Earnings Call October 20, 2010 ET


Laura Guerrant - IR

Andy Moring - CFO

Dave Dutton - President & CEO


Edwin Mok - Needham & Co.

Christian Schwab

Gary Hsueh - Oppenheimer & Company

Ben Pang - Caris & Company


Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Mattson Technology Incorporated third quarter financial results conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder this conference call is being recorded.

I would now like to hand the conference over to Ms. Laura Guerrant, Mattson Technology Investor Relations Counsel. Ma'am you may begin.

Laura Guerrant

Thank you and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us today to discuss Mattson Technology's financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2010 which ended September 26. In addition to outlining the company's financial results for the quarter we will also provide guidance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

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 Andy I'd like to remind everyone that the 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 releases, and 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 AeA Classic Conference sponsored by TechAmerica on November 9 in San Diego I'm looking forward to seeing many of you there, with that I would like to turn the call over Andy. Andy?

Andy Moring

Thank you, Laura, and welcome to our third quarter 2010 conference call. After I review the financial performance and give guidance, Dave will comment on the business and then we'll open up the call for Q&A.

The industry continues to move through the capacity driven phase of the upturn. The third quarter marks Mattson Technology sixth consecutive quarter a double digit sequential growth in our business with a 24% increase in revenue quarter-over-quarter.

Revenues were at the top of our guidance fueled by successes with our new product strategy and broad-based buying of our core strip and RTP products from a number of customers.

Our RTP equipment has been placed at key foundry customers and our Etch equipment continues to be purchased for current production capacity needs. These are new markets for us. These successes bolster our confidence that we will outgrow much of the industry as the cycle progresses. We increased our cash position during the quarter and we are driving to achieve the P&L breakeven milestone by the end of the year.

Here are the key points relative to our financial performance for the third quarter. We ship multiple etch production tools as part of the order we announced at the beginning of the quarter. We now have roughly a dozen etch tools in production and several more in evaluation. Our target has been for the etch market to comprise over 30% of our systems sales during 2010 and we are on track to achieve this goal. Margins were slightly were above our expectations this quarter but the company is very focused on achieving higher targeted gross margins by next year. Our loss per share was within guidance although unfavorably impacted by currency fluctuations due to the strengthening of the Euro and its impact on our RTP division in Germany. Our ending cash, cash equivalent, short term investments and restricted cash balances were over $45 million about $3 million higher than last quarter.

Now to a more detailed look at our financial results for the quarter. Net sales were at the top of guidance at $39.8 million, up 24% from the second quarter of 2010. We shipped new and used equipment to 12 different customers which supports our belief that this ramp is broad-based and capacity driven. While our current business is still dominated by memory customers, our recent announcements of success with foundry customers for our core products including RTP is proof that we are a successfully diversifying our portfolio as planned.

Gross margin for the third quarter was 36.5% almost 6 margin points higher than second quarter results. While we are encouraged by this improvement, the results are still below our targeted gross margin expectations. As we stated last quarter, margins are negatively impacted by several factors: first, accounting roles require us to defer until acceptance approximately 10% of all shipment revenue, which represent the installation value of the tools.

In periods of revenue growth, revenue deferred out will exceed revenue recognized in through customer acceptance. Second, several strip customers are ramping their current generation production facilities and are in need of our legacy Aspen III systems which carry lower gross margins. Third, we have experienced a higher set of costs for materials for our new products. The impact on margins in the third quarter for these factors was about 6 percentage points. While the first issue will always occur during periods of increasing shipments. The impact of the other two issues are being actively addressed by the company and we expect to see a return to targeted margins next year.

Operating expenses for the third quarter were $19.5 million about the same as the second quarter of 2010. We feel our cost are appropriate to support our new product development in both engineering and field service and we will continue to maintain tight controls on operating expenses as we move beyond breakeven revenue levels. Interest and other expenses showed a loss of $1.4 million compared to comparable gain last quarter.

During the third quarter, the Euro strengthened relative to the dollar by 8% almost entirely reversing the 9% weakening that occurred during the second quarter. The resulting revaluation of the company's Euro-based liabilities plus other exchange base P&L adjustments resulted in approximately $1 million of unfavorable impact to the P&L.

There were a number of similar Euro exchange related adjustments to our P&L and balance sheet both favorable and unfavorable during the quarter caused by the significant euro balances we hold to support our RTP operations in Germany. The third quarter GAAP loss was $6.4 million or $0.13 loss per share compared to a GAAP loss of $8.4 million or $0.17 loss per share in the second quarter of 2010.

Cash, cash equivalents, short term investments and restricted cash at the end of the third quarter were $45.3 million, an improvement of almost $3 million over last quarter's balances despite our operating loss. We were able to achieve this result by efficient receivables management and favorable timing of system shipments during the quarter. In addition, the revaluation of our euro denominated cash had a favorable impact of $1.2 million.

During the quarter we placed an additional $2 million in restricted cash which is used to secure standby letters of credit from certain landlords and vendors. Restricted cash is used in lieu of the credit facilities the company established in prior years to provide these guarantees, we are trying cash and accounts receivable balances and lack of debt, we continue to have sufficient liquidity to handle the working capital needs with the current production ramp.

Net inventory balances were up in the second quarter by $2 million primarily due to additions to the evaluation tool portfolio and customers for our Etch, Helios XP, and Suprema products. This replenishment of the evaluation inventory will go towards securing orders for these products in the future

Turning to our guidance for the fourth quarter of 2010, we expect that fourth quarter revenues will once more be up between 15% and 25% in the range of $46 million to $50 million, gross margin will be between 36% and 39%, acceleration of the Etch business continues to temporarily delay the achievement of our targeted margins for this product and is hampering our short-term gross margins, earnings will be in the range of loss per share of $0.04 to breakeven.

Many of our shipments for the fourth quarter are scheduled to December delivery and inventory will need to be purchased and paid for earlier in the quarter which will require us to use cash to fund working capital. The December shipments will be recognized on the balance sheet in accounts receivable at the end of the quarter and a majority of the customer payments for these shipments will be received in January.

In addition, we will continue to replenish our evaluation inventory and we'll require additional cash purchases to complete and ship these tools. We estimate that the cash balance at the end of the fourth quarter will be approximately $30 million to $33 million.

To summarize, in the third quarter we experience our sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit sequential growth in our business. Our short-term visibility suggested capacity expansion by our customers, is still ongoing and the success of our new product strategy enables us to continue this growth trend through out the rest of the year.

Our Etch business continues to show traction and this momentum is the key to outgrowing the sector in this upturn. We are moving forward with our gross margin improvement programs and along with continued revenue growth are now in position to achieve breakeven results or better in the short-term.

Our confidence in Mattson Technology's business and the company's place in the industry remains high. We have made significant achievements with regard to many of the product goals we invested in during the long down turn in our industry. Our expanding RTP into logic and foundry coupled with our entrance into the challenging and technology driven Etch business, we have a much stronger and more diversified product portfolio.

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

Dave Dutton

Thanks, Andy. Good afternoon everyone. During the third quarter Mattson Technology experienced further progress to our growth plan and our Q3 results and our Q4 guidance continue to show double-digit growth. We achieved our stated financial targets and continued to experience important wins in the number of areas that strategically diversify our revenue base and increase our served available market.

Several years ago we embarked on a bold strategy to expand our market to over twice its previous size. These investments have clearly paid off as Etch now represents one third of company revenues and RTP has doubled its served addressable market by extending into the foundry market. No other major equipment company has organically grown their markets nearly as much during the severe recession. We made this decision knowing it would delay our near-term resumption to profitability. But we viewed it was best for the long-term gain of our shareholders. We are now transitioning from the investment phase of its long term strategy to the reward phase as we start to production volumes around. And we entered 2011 with a far healthier and more robust product portfolio transitioning from a niche player to a broad based equipment supplier with enhanced growth opportunities.

We have had several significant milestones that demonstrate the success of our product strategy. To begin with, our core product positioning is improving. The Suprema Photoresist Strip system are most widely accepted product continues to gain position as customers increasingly recognize its industry leading productivity, exceptional reliability and superb on way for performance.

A new agent customer recently placed orders for multiple Suprema's which are scheduled to ship in the current fourth quarter. Our Helios RTP product line shipped to multiple memory customers continuing its leading cost of ownership position in this market.

With several recent successes, our Helios XP RTP system is delivering on our initiative to expand our RTP position into logic and foundry. During the quarter we shipped and installed multiple Helios XP systems to a leading agent foundry, expanding our RTP installed base with volume production and revenue expected to begin in 2011. Etch continues to accelerate as we ramp production and gain new applications.

During the quarter we announced an evaluation shipment of our Alpine Etch product and packaging and ship tools for volume production of our paradigmE etch system to one of our long standing customers. This is the third consecutive quarter of production volume paradigmE shipment where the systems are used for multiple dielectric etch applications. And today just before this call, we announced that we and just this past week, we shipped a paradigmE qualification tool to a logic factory expanding our application base.

The qualification system will be used in the back end of line etch applications for the production and development of advanced logic devices. This is a new area for our system expanding half of our memory position and production revenues are expected to begin in the second half of 2011.

We are clearly making advancements in etch and our strategic decision to expand in this growing segment that triples our served available market is paying off. Roughly one-third of our system's revenue in 2010 will come from our advanced etch products.

A few years ago there were no Mattson etch systems installed. Just a year ago we had a handful of etch tools and qualifications and today we have over three times the etch systems worldwide in memory, foundry and packaging in production with the installed base growing every quarter. These are inspiring times for Mattson Technology as we see our growth strategy becoming a reality, a reality that will provide solid returns for our shareholders.

The overall demand for the electronics certainly continues. We are seeing inflection points in the market with mobility products starting to drive a larger piece in the market. Chip unit growth is up and although some are concerned about near-term IC demand, we still see opportunity and are optimistic about our future.

While there are certain factors that advocate caution, there are other indications that this cycle could continue throughout the next year and into 2012. The economy in Asia remains robust and our customers continue to sell into the developing world even though the consumer economy in the US is slowly recovering.

Our customers are achieving record levels of revenue and while the growth rates may slow next year it is still likely that revenues will be even higher. Investments made over the past several years coupled with gains in productivity in mini fabs still have not been enough to satisfy the extreme popularity of mini new products such as smartphones and tablets. We continue to track many new capacity projects planned for both memory and foundry, projects that disproportionately will benefit Mattson Technology.

The world is emerging from what undoubtedly is the worst recession seen in 70 years, and yet the economy that is emerging is one that is more globally based than ever. Mattson Technology is entering this new global era positioned in three market segments with over triple the available markets that we had before the recession.

Integrated circuits play an ever stronger role in the new world economy with strong growth across memory, logic and even discreet devices. Mattson Technology delivers to Moore's law with proprietary plasma technologies that help enable double patterning and ultra-high selective stripping. And with thermal technologies that minimize pattern shift, [fair looking] budget and uniformity. All these are critical to meeting sub-20 nanometer requirements. At the same time we bring our unique ability of delivering leading low-cost of ownership to help bring ICs to all corners of the globe.

Looking forward, we see many new fab projects being planned by our customers that are expected to begin equipment placement in 2011. It is at these greenfield projects that we believe our positioning will pay off as these major projects increase our opportunities. For example, historically in a NAND project where we had one product engaged we now have two and sometimes three products.

In DRAM we had two products engaged and now looking forward we have three. And for foundry, we had one product engaged where now we have two. In effect, this amounts to more than a doubling of the available market opportunities for Mattson Technology. We could not ask to be in a better place as our focus on new positioning in 2009 and 2010 will pay off in strong growth for 2011 and beyond.

We feel the length of this new project cycle will allow us to fully capitalize and profit from the significant investments we made in our core products and our new technologies. We look forward to a very bright future for the company combining a much higher level of revenue into record profit and shareholder value.

And with that, I'd like to thank you very much for listening and we are now open for your questions. Operator?

Question-and-Answer Session


Thank you, sir. (Operator Instructions) First question comes from Edwin Mok from Needham & Company.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Co.

So first question I have is on the linearity on the fourth quarter. You mentioned that a [lot of tools] will be shipped in December. I think one of your peers kind of talked a lot of similar things yesterday as well, particularly in one note, the largest memory manufacturer in the world there. I am just curious how is linearity tracking for the quarter? Are you looking at like 50% ratio of them being shipped all in one month and any risk that has sort of been to maybe potentially in the first quarter?

Dave Dutton

So Edwin, I don't think that's going to be as much of a problem. Well, we're certainly, probably looking at about 50% to 55% of our system shipments going into December timeframe. It's spread out among multiple customers. So, we don't really anticipate any problems there and this is going to be a situation where we'll be buying, converting cash in to inventory in October, November, shipping it in December. It will be in accounts receivable and convert to cash in the January timeframe. So, this is actually a fairly good problem to have. We're no longer using cash to cover losses, but instead we're converting to cash and into inventory and eventually back into further cash in terms of profits.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company

Okay, maybe I'll ask it differently. So based on your announcement it sounds like you have a number of shipment in the fourth quarter from paradigmE to your customer (inaudible). You know if I look beyond the fourth quarter, now I just expect first half of '11 to be flat to down compared to the second half of '10, but I feel there is potentially some moderation in the industry there. Do you see your business maybe a bit in longer in 4Q and they want to might moderate or come down a little bit before you get back to this growth curve?

Dave Dutton

Yes, Edwin first of all I will reiterate that the visibility in this industry is always very difficult and short, but right now we see growth even though CapEx could be moderating a little bit because of the new product positions and the traction they are gaining and they are starting to move forward aggressively as we look actually out in the 2011.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company

Okay, let me maybe clarify one thing that here with Q1 that you guys recently announced, that's on first half of 2011 right and not in the fourth quarter is that correct or in terms of the?

Dave Dutton


Edwin Mok - Needham & Company

Yes okay, great thanks for clarifying that. And then on the paradigmE you know it looks like you have some success and now you should – customer there. How you guys are doing on the NAND side number one and number two is can you remind us how many active demo program you guys are running and do you expect to announce additional customer and timeframe, is it three month, six month, a year, can you give me some color there. Thanks.

Dave Dutton

Yes, paradigmE is qualified and we see active across DRAM, NAND and Logic + foundries. So it actually has been a very strong and versatile technology and we see it continuing to expand in these areas plus the base technologies we mentioned and a more low-cost version is effectively moved into the packaging as well. So we are very happy with the paradigmE and that technology. Going forward beside continuing to ramp production, we have essentially about a handful of qualifications or evaluations going on. We expect to see those in beginning of first half of 2011 be able to announce the progress of those and hopefully moving into new customers.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company

Okay I've two more question I'll jump off. The first thing is, given Matson's size, they tend to work the first thing is given the just like any company out there, right. So given that you have an and have a number of demos has been actively worked on, are you guys somewhat limit in your capacity to maybe more demo and it sounds like maybe you have some demo turning, will that open up more opportunity for more capacity deal for the company to all the customers?

Andy Moring

Let me say a couple of things. First of all, as we mentioned we made the strategic decision to stay heavily invested and make sure where we were driving forward. So part of that investment is having a very broad and global support base. So as a smaller company we actually are very effective across the whole customer base and I think that's pretty unique for Mattson and it says a lot about the Mattson team. We tend to have a -- roughly a constant set of evaluations going on. So yes there is somewhat of a south limiting where when we are at evaluation capacity, really a new one doesn't start until one of the old ones is close which also gives our teams a lot of incentive to get these closed. And that's just kind of as you mentioned, you can really only absorb so many. So, we have that somewhat into a process such that as demos come on, we make sure something is coming up, we try to make sure of it. So it did somewhat stop limiting so, again to rephrase two things, one, we are very heavily engaged across all of the top customers in the world and that's because of our maintaining strong investment in our global support base and then secondly that allows us to really be pretty proactive with demos, but we do have a self limiting where we close them before we some of the new ones.

Edwin Mok - Needham & Company

Just one last question just clarifying the numbers. I remember in the first quarter you guys have some, etch too they cannot recognize resonant to the second quarter right? Were you maintaining that this full year you will rev that etch revenue, so you will be one short of your total shelf if I get your comment correctly, that would imply that etch themselves at least for timely the be undeterred falling in the 40% range. There are times too aggressive or am I missing something on numbers?

Dave Dutton

The tool which you mentioned, absolutely we shipped it in the first quarter recognized it in the second quarter. Once we have a history of acceptances of these tools then we start recognizing revenue upon shipment. Beginning in the second quarter and continuing through the third quarter we have been shipping incrementally more etch equipment to a number of places and that will continue in the fourth quarter. I doubt at the fourth quarter, I think you mentioned 40% that sounds quite high. It probably will not be anywhere near there but yes, we are continuing with the progress on this tool side.


Thank you our next question comes from Christian Schwab.

Christian Schwab

Great thank you, as we look to, would you first remind this of what your targeted gross margin range is?

Dave Dutton

Our targeted gross margins are up in the mid forties, to upper forties.

Christian Schwab

Right 45 to 48% give or take. Given the trajectory given all the impacts that is negatively impacting gross margins because we are kind of in this you know hockey stick inflection point if you will regarding quarterly revenue growth at what point you know should revenues continue to grow sequentially and what quarterly revenue run rate would make sense to get the 45% gross margins?

Dave Dutton

Christian I think as far as growth adding to our gross margin I was starting to reach sort of the diminishing returns laws there it will have some impact as we continue to grow specially with the rates we have been seeing this lately but really we have gotten to the point we are going to have to work hard at these gross margin improvement that we talked about we should continue to see sequential growth through the rest of the this year obviously and into next year and by the end of the year we should clearly have these problems behind us and be at or above our margin targets.

Christian Schwab

So is this Q1 of next quarter is Q1 of next year revenues grow again sequentially despite that have the gross you think that gross margin can return into the mid 40's so did I hear that right?

Dave Dutton

No I think what I said was that if revenue continues we will get a slight bump up but those growth rates won't be as large in terms of percentage with the revenue growth and again just a diminishing return type of law. What we really need to continue to do is work these issues that we're having with the new products which we have definite programs in place and you'll start seeing some continuous improvement of those programs throughout all of next year. But I would think early on in the year we certainly will be at the low 40 level and towards the end of the year, I think we can absolutely be at the 45% if not above that range.

Christian Schwab

In the last call you guys were quite optimistic about 2011 and suggesting that clearly revenue could exceed prior peak cycles. You know at the end of the year that would suggest you know a continuation of very strong double-digit sequential growth in order to get there. Is that something you still believe in or was that maybe too slightly optimistic?

Dave Dutton

Chris, we are still driving to that and we still view from our viewpoint CapEx is up maybe roughly 10% year-over-year. And as I mentioned, if you look the way how we position in these new projects we have essentially one or two extra product positions than we had initially to win. So what that means is I think in that the same CapEx mode we'll be looking at if we execute across these product positions we still believe, yeah we can reach record levels.


Our next question comes from Gary Hsueh from Oppenheimer & Company.

Gary Hsueh - Oppenheimer & Company

A few questions here. Let me just kind of rattle them off. First of all Dave, I am just wondering given the fact there is a lot shipment activity in December just how much conservatism there is in your December revenue guidance. To help me with that I was wondering if you can give me now, now that you have a little bit more visibility and a handle on your shipment profile, what shipments were in September and what you think there could be in December?

And then the second question here for Andy, it looks like we are just shy of sort of the breakeven cost structure of around 300 basis points. I was wondering if you could parse out that 300 basis points in your guidance in December that we are off the breakeven target by the mix shift, particularly in script going against you and maybe more than expected ramp cost on some new products.

And then the final question is, now that you guys have better visibility, you've built the cash position up here in the balance sheet in the September quarter, a good job by the way on that, does that change your opinion or view on the timing and the need for the shell filling that you guys issued last quarter? Thank you.

Dave Dutton

Gary thanks. I will talk about the first question and Andy I think can cover the other ones. And first of all, we really don't talk about shipments, when we went to SIB 101 accounting we agreed. We'd always focus on revenue to not cause confusion, but I can say this, as Andy mentioned, a little over 50% of our shipments are in the December area of the quarter. September is probably the lightest of the quarter, so you can, I am sorry, September versus last quarter. I would say in this time it is probably about 40% more impacted in the third month of the quarter than last quarter. And as far as how considerable we are being, of course you are always a little -- you'd add a little conservatism in the more shipments are loaded in the last month but we are pretty confident given the guidance we are at and the shipments that we will be working hard to deliver to it.

Regarding kind of the discussion about the breakeven point, yes, the fourth quarter is somewhat impacted by the mix. I think it's a good story to tell there simply because I think we are seeing acceleration of the Etch business and as we said Etch business right now has a little bit of some issues as we are trying to work as far as the material costs that we think we can get our arms around and working pretty hard to do. So that did impact the mix more percentage of that product in the fourth quarter can cause us to have some issues.

I think as you said it was three margin points, I think it was closer to two to three margin points. So that has that impact but again I think the key here is we are driving very hard to [Christian] said get back to the 45% gross margin level and we do think that we have our arms around that problem when we get there next year sometime.

Regarding the cash situation, there has been no change to what we stated last time. This was put in place for strategic purposes. There was no intention at the time to execute that shelf filing. It's available to us for three years and we basically put it into place and basically set it up and now have put that behind us.


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

Ben Pang - Caris & Company

For your Etch product in 2011 what's the key application driver in terms of boundaries, how did you think about that?

Dave Dutton

Ben looking into 2011 and the way we see spending going I think the key drivers in our Etch will be NANDs, and then kind of largely foundry and later in the year we'll probably be DRAMs.

Ben Pang - Caris & Company

Okay so what's the mix of the 30% of shipments in 2010 of the same basis? Is foundry the biggest application in 2010?

Dave Dutton

In 2010 actually DRAM was probably the biggest applications for Etch.

Ben Pang - Caris & Company

And the final question for me is, when I looked at your non-Etch revenue are you concerned about that part of your business is capital spending is it a trend there in 2009?

Dave Dutton

No, we are not concerned cause like I mentioned I don't think we see CapEx going lower and we're seeing new positions even in some of our core product areas that we believe will allow our core to stay very robust.


[Operator Instructions] I'm showing no further questions at this time.

Dave Dutton

Okay, once again thank you all for joining our third quarter 2010 conference call. We look forward to updating you on the progress on our next quarter conference call. Thank you. Operator?


Ladies and gentlemen thank you for participating in today's conference. This concludes our program for today. You may all disconnect and have a wonderful day.

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