Why Ultratech Shares Plunged

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Ultratech (NASDAQ: UTEK  ) dropped by more than 18% during intraday trading Thursday after the semiconductor equipment specialist announced disappointing third-quarter results.

So what: Quarterly net revenue fell by more than 50% to $29.7 million, which translated to a net loss of $7.8 million, or $0.28 per share, compared to a net income of $12.4 million, or $0.45 per diluted share in the same year-ago period.

For reference, analysts were expecting earnings of $0.04 per share on $42.75 million in sales.

Now what: Today's drop was essentially an exaggerated repeat of last quarter's miss, and Ultratech CEO Arthur Zafiropoulo once again explained, "As we have indicated in the past, the markets that we serve can be volatile, and due to the size of our average unit sale, this volatility can result in significant variability of our near-term results."

As a result, and noting the current "pause in capital equipment spending that is occurring within the logic sector of the [semiconductor] market," Zafiropoulo once again professed confidence in his company's long-term prospects.

To be sure, with just over $300 million in cash and minimal debt on its balance sheet, Ultratech looks like it has plenty of resources to weather this temporary storm. With shares trading at a reasonable 18 times last year's earnings and just over 15 times next year's estimates, I think investors might be wise to open a small long position in anticipation of a turnaround.

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