A Semiconductor Stock to Stay Away From This Year

When I wrote about Veeco Instruments (Nasdaq: VECO  ) last year, I had said that terrible times are in the offing for this semiconductor equipment provider. The company's stock has continued its downward journey since then, and to top it all, Veeco has left its investors poorer by some 52% this year as almost all of its businesses took a hammering.

Now let's see how bad the new year may turn out for Veeco and also check if the company has some fuel in its tank to deliver a surprise in 2012.

A year to forget
First, let's do a background check on Veeco. The company has been compounding its revenue at the rate of 20% annually over the last five years. Also, its revenue growth so far this year comes in just above that mark -- at 25% -- when compared with the same period a year ago. However, a number of factors squeezed the company's margins badly and led to a more than one-third drop in earnings this year. Let's see what went wrong.

Veeco manufactures and sells LEDs, solar panels, and hard-disk drives. In 2011, it saw all its product lines take a hit due to global economic uncertainties. Moreover, the management revealed in the third-quarter earnings release that bookings for Veeco's products have halved from 2010, which doesn't bode well for it in the coming year. The company's revenue growth has already slowed this year, and it won't come as a surprise if the top line ceases to grow next year.

Industry blues
Established players in the industry such as Cree and Aixtron have had a bad time this year, and it seems everyone's woes are likely to go into the new year as well. The weakness in the solar industry coupled with uncertainty in the LED market make the coming year look even more tenuous. Throw in the uncertain future of hard drives as the world moves toward the mobile computing platform, and we see Veeco facing some more headwinds.

The Foolish takeaway
With the way the industry is shaping up at the moment and the possibility of an awful year looming large over Veeco's head, it seems the company's woes are set to continue. 

Fool contributor Harsh Chauhan doesn't own any shares in the companies mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2012, at 3:13 PM, Jildisjild wrote:

    Note the detail, that they don't sell LED's, solar panels or HDD's. They sell the equipment to manufacture such products. That's a different thing, with respect to timing. When VECO's customers invest for new projects, then VECO's conditions should improve. I assume that should be a half year ahead of the time that the mentioned market segments starts to pick up.

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