Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WaferNEWS Watch: ASML bucks SCE slide, TI lifts AEHR

ASML is gaining significant share at Intel and Samsung and is set up to significantly outperform the chipmaking tool sector as a whole, reports one analyst. And Aehr Systems is bullish thanks in part to Texas Instruments rescue of a Spansion Japan facility.

ASML gaining share, bucking SCE's slide

Credit Suisse's Satya Kumar is still "constructive" on ASML, seeing around worries about weakness in PCs and DRAM price declines to ASML's shipment trends staying intact through mid-2011. Capital intensity needs to increase, he continues to say, and ASML is gaining share at key accounts: new orders at Intel in 2H10, and also from Toshiba for the first time in two years. Specifically he suggests 8-10 NXT orders from Intel in 2Q and another 8-10 coming in 2H10, increasing its share of Intel's semiconductor lithography spend to ~65% (up from ~40%).

That latter point about new orders is important, he writes in a research note, since ASML may realize orders later than some of its semiconductor equipment peers -- e.g. missing from its 2Q10 backlog were likely Intel 22nm Phase 2, Toshiba Y5, TSMC F15, Global Foundry US, IMFS, and Samsung L16. So while orders trend flat to down -10% in 4Q for the overall semiconductor equipment sector, he thinks ASML could see 8% Q/Q growth to a €1.4B backlog.

For those tracking EUV progress, Kumar thinks ASML will deliver six EUV tools by 2Q11, and recognize most of the revenue in the calendar year.

TI's Spansion buy: The wind beneath AEHR's wings

Among comments by Aehr Test Systems execs discussing their fiscal 1Q11 results was optimism regarding TI's takeover of Spansion Japan's wafer fab, which has "a good number of FOX-1 systems which have not been utilized to any significant extent during Spansion Japan's bankruptcy action," noted AEHR CFO Gary Larson. TI's pledge to extend testing services there through at least June 2012 means not only will get those tools get humming again, but a potential opportunity to sell more WaferPaks and upgrades.

Other tidbits from the conference call:

- Chairman/CEO Rhea Posedel noted ongoing work with a Taiwanese manufacturer for DDR3-DDR4 DRAM, but not much can be announced, as qualification has yet to occur.

- Prompted during the Q&A to pick a winner in the race for cash vs. revenue, Larson asserted that "we don't believe cash is a problem" for this year; that cash burn will decrease in F2Q11; and that inventory has increased so systems can be shipped "on very short notice" for a quick sales upside.

Foundries open wallets

New Taiwan foundry tool purchases, according to reported financial filings: ~$45M from TSMC, to AMAT ($24M) and KLAC ($21M), and UMC spending $17M for Semitool's tools.

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