Applied Materials today held its 2009 financial analyst day in New York City. Applied's executive team discussed the company's plans for preserving its strong financial position in the current economic crisis while investing hundreds of millions of dollars in R+D to extend its leadership in semiconductors, LCD display, crystalline silicon and thin-film solar, and other energy and environmental products.
"By proactively addressing the challenges of the economic crisis and industry downturn while maintaining our investments in the future, Applied is demonstrating that we are built to last and built to win," stated Mike Splinter, president and CEO. "We have a strong balance sheet, great products and technologies, and a unique ability to deliver innovations that enable customers to manufacture their products on a global industrial scale. These strengths are positioning Applied as a new leader in solar, one of the most exciting areas in business today."
This month, VLSI Research named Applied as the world's largest supplier of photovoltaic cell manufacturing equipment in 2008. Applied entered the market in 2006.
George Davis, CFO, discussed how Applied's early and decisive cost-cutting and efficiency measures are lowering the Company's breakeven point and positioning Applied for profitable growth. "We are balancing the need for cost savings with investments in our future growth areas," said Davis, who also discussed the company's cash flow, discipline and financial ability to take advantage of new opportunities.
Mark Pinto, CTO and general manager of the Environmental and Energy Solutions Group, said: "Applied is driving down the cost of photovoltaics to the levels necessary for adoption in large-scale solar farm applications. Applied intends to enable utilities to deploy green solar power at or below the cost of alternatives used in peak-load power generation while avoiding the price swings and environmental damage associated with petroleum products." Pinto explained how scaling solar is the real secret to driving the cost of solar-produced electricity to price parity with fossil fuels, and pointed to other areas of Applied's solar business which have grown quickly. "Our crystalline silicon and thin film business strategies have been successful, and our acquisitions in these areas have been accretive, adding new products and capabilities, and propelling Applied to a global leadership position in solar."
"With more than 100,000 SunFab thin-film panels produced to date, our SunFab ramp continues at tremendous speed, with three SunFab customers in volume production today, 14 lines under construction and 8 of those lines already producing panels," said Randhir Thakur, general manager of the SunFab Thin Film Solar and Display Business Group. "We have already achieved important panel certifications and we have moved rapidly down the learning curve, shortening our cycle times and improving productivity." He added that the Display Group is focused on new technology and decreasing customer cost while "broadening our product footprint and expanding our market share with our new Gen. 10 CVD and Pivot PVD systems."
Tom St. Dennis, general manager, Silicon Systems, explained how the company remains focused on growing its business in etch and inspection while enhancing its market leadership in other areas such as metal, front end, CVD, and CMP. "In past downturns, a steep recovery has occurred at the end of the cycle," stated St. Dennis. "While it is too early to focus on when the upturn will be, we are working to have the best products in place with customers who are key technology leaders."
"In these challenging times, service is an important way for us to help our customers as they look for ways to save money in their fabs and increase productivity," said Manfred Kerschbaum, general manager, Applied Global Services. "Our service opportunity is expanding, as customers in semiconductor, flat panel and solar look to us for our expertise and wide range of products and services, including powerful new remote service capabilities."
Splinter concluded by reminding investors, "We don't know how long the recession will last, but we know Applied will last and emerge as a stronger leader in all of our markets when the economic environment improves."