CHICAGO, Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com Analyst Blog features: Novellus Systems (Nasdaq: NVLS), Microsoft Corp (Nasdaq: MSFT), KLA-Tencor Corp (Nasdaq: KLAC), Apple Inc (Nasdaq: AAPL) and McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK).
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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:
Novellus Shares Up on Solid Quarter
Novellus Systems (Nasdaq: NVLS) reported fourth quarter earnings that beat the Zacks consensus by 9 cents, or 9.8%. Revenue edged past the Zacks Consensus, exceeding by 1.7%. Shares responded positively, jumping 3.94% in after-hours trade, as Novellus grew its gross, operating and net margins. A much lower tax rate also helped the bottom line.
Novellus reported revenue of $384.4 million, up 4.7% sequentially and 57.4% year over year, at the high end of management's guidance range of $367-$385 million.
Management stated that Novellus continued to gain from the PC refresh cycle, the adoption of Microsoft Corp's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows 7 OS, increased use of the Internet, cloud computing, government spending (especially in the areas of security) and a global rebound in consumer spending (led by China). These factors are longer term drivers of Novellus' business and management expects them to have a continued positive impact on its business this year.
Getting down to specifics, Novellus stated that customers were showing a greater degree of confidence in the economic recovery and had, therefore, started expanding capacity. Overall, similar to KLA-Tencor Corp (Nasdaq: KLAC) that reported last week, Novellus continues to see greater strength at NAND customers, followed by foundry. However, the DRAM segment, although generating some revenue, is expected to soften by the end of the year.
As far as pricing is concerned, DRAM has been the weakest, dropping all through 2010. NAND pricing started to decline, but recovered soon thereafter. According to recent reports, NAND pricing in January has been mostly stable, especially in the second half of the month. However, given the solid demand, driven by growth in smartphones and tablets, especially Apple Inc's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad icluding any newer versions, NAND prices should hold and could even strengthen.
Additionally, technology upgrades to 300mm manufacturing and 3x nm are driving strength at foundries.
Revenue by Geography
Asia remained the largest contributor to Novellus' revenues in the last quarter, with a 62% revenue share. Revenues from Asia were down 8.6% sequentially and 37.4% from a year ago. The sequential decline was due to Korea, which went from 31% of revenue in the September 2010 quarter to 15% in the last quarter. The Greater China region remained the largest contributor, with a 43% revenue share, up 25.0% sequentially. Japan stayed at 4% of revenue.
Approximately 25% of revenue came from the U.S., which was up 18.9% sequentially and 87.4% year over year, reflecting the increased spending on semiconductor manufacturing in the country.
Europe accounted for the remaining 13% of revenue, up 94.4% sequentially and 155.8% year over year.
Orders were flattish (up 0.9% during the quarter) to reach $411 million. The year-over-year growth of 59.4% was encouraging and followed the four quarters of triple-digit year-over-year growth. We estimate that backlog went down 2.3%, although still at very high levels. Managmenet did not mention the lead time, so we assume that it remained at 12-16 weeks, slightly ahead of the normal 12-week range.
The pro forma gross margin for the quarter was 51.0%, up 191 basis points (bps) from the previous quarter's 49.1%, at the high end of the guided range of 50% (+/- 1%). The gross margin improvement in the last quarter was on account of a better mix of business and helped by higher volumes that helped spread fixed costs. Gross margins have been expanding rapidly and are now almost at Novellus' long-term target of 52-54%.
Operating expenses of $95.0 million were up 10.6% sequentially and 27.0% year over year. The operating margin was 26.3%, up 58 bps from 25.8% recorded in the previous quarter and up 911 bps from 17.2% reported in the year-ago quarter. In the last quarter, both R&D and SG&A, increased substantially as a percentage of sales, so the improvement in operating margin was entirely on account of the stronger gross margin.
Excluding the impact of restructuring charges and consolidation charges related to a German facility on a tax-adjusted basis, the pro forma net income was $94.3 million or 24.5% of sales, compared to a net profit of of $81.3 million or 22.2% of sales in the previous quarter and net income of $38.6 million or 15.8% of sales in the year-ago quarter.
Including the special items, the GAAP net income was $81.5 million ($0.89 per share) compared to income of $76.3 million ($0.82 per share) in the September 2010 quarter and $35.2 million ($0.36 per share) in the December quarter of last year.
Inventories increased 5.2%, with inventory turns dropping from 3.8X to 3.6X. Days sales outstanding (DSOs) went up from 50 to around 61. DSOs have been going up for a while now and the increase in the last quarter was significant. Novellus ended with cash and short term investments of $671.3 million ($7.44 per share), up $76.7 million during the quarter. In the last quarter, Novellus generated $88 million in cash from operations and spent $103 million on the repurchase of 3.5 million shares. Novellus has $540 million left under the current authorization plan to expire in October 2011.
Management expects semiconductor capex spend to be up 15-20% this year, much stronger than what market research firms were projecting. We think this is because of the changed scenario and very high demand for NAND.
For the first quarter, Novellus expects orders to be flat to up 10%, with shipments dropping 4-12% sequentially to $370-400 million. Revenues are expected to increase 3-11% to $395-425 million. Novellus also expects a gross margin of 50.5% (+/- 1%) and GAAP earnings of 95 cents to $1.10.
Novellus Systems is a beneficiary of the ongoing strength in the semiconductor market, which is being driven by the corporate PC refresh cycle, as well as very strong growth in smartphones and other MIDs. This is pushing up demand and thus pricing for NAND components, resulting in technology purchases and capacity expansion by memory customers. Management comments indicate that demand from foundries remain strong all over the world.
Both Gartner and SEMI had initially projected that semiconductor equipment sales would grow mid single digits this year. Subsequently, SEMI forecast much higher double-digit growth. Novellus' semi capex expectations for 2011 are similar to SEMI's revised expectations.
We have a short-term Strong Buy rating (Zacks #1 Rank) on Novellus shares.
McKesson Beats, Ups Outlook
McKesson Corp.'s (NYSE: MCK) third quarter fiscal 2011 earnings of $1.22 per share (excluding special items) beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 11 cents and the year-ago earnings by 3 cents. Including expenses associated with the acquisition of US Oncology, earnings for the quarter came in at $1.12 per share.
Lower share count boosted third quarter earnings.
Revenues for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 remained flat at $28.2 billion and were slightly short of the Zacks Consensus Revenue Estimate of $28.4 billion.
Quarter in Detail
McKesson operates through two segments: Distribution Solutions and Technology Solutions. Revenues at the Distribution Solutions segment remained flat at $27.5 billion in the reported quarter.
Revenues from the US pharmaceutical distribution business slid 1% to $24.1 billion. The decline was primarily due to reduced revenues from two of the company's customers and the prior-year impact of the H1N1 flu virus. Sales of generics through McKesson's proprietary program, OneStop, continued to climb, with the current quarter experiencing a 29% increase. Canadian revenues grew 6% to $2.6 billion, basically reflecting market growth. Medical-Surgical distribution revenues declined 2% to $744 million.
Revenues at the Technology Solutions segment went up 2% to $790 million during the quarter. McKesson recorded $23 million worth of revenues during the current quarter, the expenses of which were recognized earlier. Revenues from this segment are derived from services, sale of software & software systems and hardware.
Within the Technology Solutions segment, service revenues increased 3% to $629 million. While software revenues slipped 2% to $135 million, hardware revenues shot up 13% to $26 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011.
Gross profit for the quarter remained flat at $1.46 billion. McKesson reported a 2% increase in operating expenses, incurring $965 million.
McKesson revised its earnings guidance range for fiscal 2011. The company now expects earnings (excluding special items) in the range of $4.82 to $5.02 per share, up from the previous guidance range of $4.72 to $4.92 per share.
The fiscal 2011 Zacks Consensus Earnings Estimate of $4.85 lies within the company's guidance range.
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