), an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of process diagnostics
and control (PDC) equipment, recently launched its first 450mm
process control equipment. The Surfscan SP3 System as it is called
is a tool for inspecting the wafer surface with the ability to
detect surface quality after deposition and/or etching and create
maps of the surface that could facilitate correction.
The drive toward 450mm wafers is increasing, with
) putting $4 billion into
) for the research and development of 450mm technology. The
transition of larger wafer sizes is a big positive for the chip
industry, since it enables significant cost reduction, thereby
facilitating the move toward the mobile and emerging markets.
Surfscan SP3 450 is the upgraded version of Surfscan SP2/SP2XP.
The latest version has thrice the data processing capacity and
better sensitivity, as well as higher resolution.
All these qualities make it ideal for manufacturers to deliver
superior quality wafers to meet the chip manufacturer's strict
guidelines. The inspection equipment can be used at the chip level,
or substrate level.
To survive the cutthroat competition in the semiconductor
industry, companies are scrambling to come out with sleeker and
smarter devices at lower cost. Chipmakers are therefore under great
pressure to provide increasingly complex devices at lower costs.
This is playing into KLA's sweet spot, because its equipment is
used to increase the efficiency of the manufacturing process.
In the third quarter of 2012 and in fiscal 2011, KLAC earned
56.0% and 64.0% of revenue respectively from the defect inspection
segment alone. As may be expected, the segment is more insulated
from ups and downs in the market, because of the increased
As per U.S. research firm Gartner, the semiconductor industry is
expected to generate $312.0 billion in 2012. IHS iSuppli is even
more optimistic, estimating total revenue of $324.6 billion this
KLA reported revenue of $840.5 million in the third quarter of
2012, which was up 30.8% sequentially, 0.8% year over year, better
than the guided range of $770-830 million and well ahead of the
consensus estimate of $802.0 million.
Currently, KLA-TENCOR Corporation has a Zacks Rank of #3,
implying a short-term Hold recommendation.
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