Applied reported a more or less in line quarter, slightly beating weaker expectations. As we had projected, the October quarter is expected to have revenues down 10% which is at the low end of our expected 10-15% drop in business. Applied services helped partially make up for some of the equipment sales weakness. Revenue came in at $4.47B versus street of $4.43B and EPS was $1.20 versus street $1.17. The October quarter is guided to $4B and EPS of $0.96 versus $4.46B and $1.17. Its clear that most analysts neglected to cut their numbers despite the widespread news.
Similar to what we heard from both Lam and KLA, management suggested Sept/Oct quarter would be a trough. However we were slightly surprised that management refrained from describing what the recovery might look like, and how long we would be in the trough. This is a sharp variation from KLAC which called for a “sharp snapback” and even weaker than Lam’s vague and softer, “positive trajectory” comments.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the weaker and less committed outlook is that Applied revealed on the call that the weakness in spending which had been limited to Samsungs memory side has now spread to foundry customers. Thats customers with an “S” as in more than one foundry is slowing down their spending.
We can only assume that both TSMC and Samsung are slowing their foundry spend as they are the biggest foundries and GloFo isn’t spending that much to start with. This seems to be somewhat confirmed as the mix of foundry business has been shifting from leading edge to trailing edge spend. The company still feels very bullish about 2019 being up in spend but we think its going to be very hard to get there from here if both memory at Samsung and at least two foundry customers are slowing their spend.
Its also clear that there is not an expectation of a rescue coming in from the display side of the business. The part of the business that’s doing a great job continues to be Applied’s services business which is helping to offset weakness in new tool sales. It’s clear to us that the reduced cyclicality is as much a reflection of a higher services business as it is a reflection of more rational spending
Potential share loss???
In doing the math of AMATs tool business against global WFE spend is seems as if AMAT is losing share as its revenue, as quoted on the call, is not growing as fast as the industry top line. Management danced around without directly answering a question on the call on the share loss math. This could be due to the predominance of memory spending we have seen where AMAT has a lower share.
Management doubled down on their outlook for 2019 by saying that 2018 and 2019 will now exceed $100B where they had previously just said $100B. If the October and January quarters are weak in 2018 we can see how 2019 could be better but we are more dubious of what will now have to be higher growth in 2019 to make the numbers work, especially in light of BOTH memory and foundry being weaker.
We had previously mentioned our concern about Samsung’s potential plan to shutter a China handset factory. We think this could be evidence of further slowing which manifested itself as a slow down in foundry spend at both TSMC and Samsung that would obviously have been making chips for the factory that is to be shut.
Investors obviously did not like the lower outlook and the spread of weakness to now include foundrieS, as the stock was off over 4% in the after market. We would imagine that this new, added concern about foundry spending will likely weigh on the group as a whole tomorrow. We had also been hoping for a stronger rebound statement that would show some hard evidence or confidence in the speed of some sort of recovery but that was also missing on the call. Applied results coupled with less than stellar news out of Nvidia could spread to other semi names and we could see the overall group weaker as well.