Applied Materials Fourth-Quarter Earnings More Than Triple

Applied Materials' (AMAT) fiscal fourth-quarter profit more than tripled as the world's biggest maker of computer-chip-production machinery recorded steady growth of sales for its semiconductor- and solar-panel-manufacturing equipment.

Net income for the quarter was $468 million, or 35 cents a share, up from $138 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier, Applied Materials said Wednesday. Revenue surged 89% to $2.89 billion.

Wall Street expected the company to earn 31 cents a share on $2.59 billion in sales. Applied Materials in August forecast earnings of between 28 cents and 32 cents a share on sales of about $2.64 billion.

Applied Materials continues to augment its chip-production machinery operations with its equipment to make solar panels. Sales for its core Silicon Systems Group advanced 2%, while orders from its Energy and Environmental Solutions unit jumped 55% from a year earlier.

But the company said it expects current-quarter sales to fall between 8% and 15% from the fourth quarter.

Last week, Intel (INTC), the world's largest chipmaker boosted its quarterly dividend by 15% to 18 cents per share, and said it's on track to have its "best year ever." The company in October said third-quarter profit jumped 59% a year earlier as revenue increased 18% to $11.1 billion.

Conversely, Cisco Systems' (CSCO) most recent financial results revealed severe slowdowns in spending by governments, and the world's No. 1 maker of computer networking equipment offered a gloomy outlook.

Applied Materials shares remained flat on the news, dipping less than 1% to $12.38 in extended trading as of 6:15 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.