Applied Materials said it is planning to shut down its production lines for up to 12 days scattered throughout 1998 -- another sign that the equipment market is slowing down this year.
A spokeswoman for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Applied said "potentially lower business for the year" prompted the world's largest equipment vendor to schedule extra days for shutting down operations. Although Applied in the past has closed for short plantwide vacations, the dozen days slated for 1998 is a higher level of shutdown than in past years.
The curtailed production is attributed not only to the Asian financial crisis, but also to a slowdown in orders from other parts of the world.
Officials from Applied AMAT and other analysts recently said 1998 will be a rocky year for
chip gear makers, but 1999 should be strong.
Applied CEO James Morgan, who spoke at the SemInvest 98 conference in New York a few weeks ago, said the turbulence in Asia's financial markets are not a trend, but an overdue correction.
"In the short term, there is uncertainty," said Morgan. "But there's a long-term opportunity for us."
Analysts for the most part agreed.
"We have probably seen an awful lot of the worst," said Jonathan Joseph, an analyst for NationsBanc Montgomery Securities. "I think investment will increase in the next 12 to 18 months."