SAN JOSE, Calif. - Mike Splinter, chairman and chief executive of Applied Materials Inc., painted a mixed picture of 2011 after the fab tool giant posted a strong quarter. As reported
, Applied beat Wall Street's estimates in its fiscal fourth quarter, but the company's outlook is cloudy. Splinter made the following observations and predictions during a conference call after the results: 1. Is fab tool party over?
Applied has increased its overall wafer-fab equipment (WFE) sales forecast for 2010 to between $29 billion and $30 billion, up from an earlier forecast of between $26 billion and $28 billion.2. Not everyone is fabless
Applied is ''tracking 17 new fabs.'' This, in turn, could result in $60 billion in total WFE sales over the next ''eight to 12 quarters.''3. DRAM is down and out
For 2011, the fab tool growth will be driven by foundry and NAND to offset a ''pause in DRAM.'' 4. LCD gear capex is down
The capex for LCD gear is expected to be up 75 percent to 80 percent in 2010, but the fourth quarter will be down. Capex for LCD gear will be down by about 20 percent in 2011.5. Solar is hot-again
The solar tool market is ''strong.'' Total solar cell installations will hit 19 gigawatts (GW) to 21 GW in 2011, up from about 16 GW in 2010. Solar tool capex is expected to be flat in 2011, which will hover around 13 GW to 15 GW.