A Big Upgrade for Applied Materials

Every day, the sun rises on Wall Street, and a plethora of professional analysts wake to issue new opinions on stocks. Here at the Fool, we examine some of these picks -- and the track record of the firm behind them -- so individuals can make better investing decisions.

In addition to following professional banks, anyone can use Motley Fool CAPS to monitor the collective opinions of more than 110,000 members, many of whom demonstrate better investing insight than published analysts do.

Enough top-performing CAPS members have recently turned bullish on Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT  ) to upgrade it from its four-star rank to a more formidable five stars. A total of 1,303 CAPS members have given their opinion on the company, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

While Applied Materials is seeing sales of semiconductor equipment sagging, the bright side is that revenue from its solar-panel business is growing. Last year it landed a $250 million deal to supply equipment for a thin-film plant in India, and this February it received a massive $1.9 billion order. Thin is definitely in with Applied Materials, and supplying thin-film solar lines to LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK  ) -- and potentially to other thin-film players like First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) , Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq: ENER  ) , and Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) -- has prospects looking up.

Applied is expanding geographically, too, with plans to bolster its supply capability with a $60 million to $70 million plant in Singapore that will be completed in late 2009. New contracts are taking the company to new regions as well, with a deal with Masdar to build 210 megawatts of solar module production capacity in Abu Dhabi and an award from Italian renewable energy company Moncada Energy to supply it with a thin-film line.

The heavy load of thin-film orders has CAPS members bullish, with 94% of the 1,303 members rating the company expecting it to outperform the market.

To see what the very best CAPS members are saying now about Applied Materials -- as well as other winning stocks they are picking -- head on over to CAPS and have a look. The community research and resources in CAPS are totally free, unlike analyst opinions reserved for paying clients.

More Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Dave Mock has yet to upgrade his TV for the digital age. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool's disclosure policy always lands on its feet, except when peanut butter is spread on top.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (4)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2008, at 12:00 PM, Brettze wrote:

    Applied Materials will be no different than Micron Technologies , maker of memory chips. Both is American and incapable of competiting against the Southern East Asia countres brimming with countless competitors at lower wages and benefits. You are reading a repeat of Micron Tech of a few years ago being heralded as the best hope for memory chips. Both will go nowhere fast due to high costs and wages in America. Who wants to pay too much for photovoltaics this time around liek we didnt want with memory chips... Pfffffffffffttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2008, at 12:03 PM, Brettze wrote:

    a lot of unions is still not learning anything from GM and Ford and the high wages union named UAW. We chose import cars over GM and Ford because of UAW high costs. Ripples will spread out before too long... We are already unable to build anything new around in most places because of high union costs and high contract prices. We will have no choice but to let immigrants come and do all the works for cheap to help us balance our budgets... Americans will no longer have the best jobs..

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2008, at 1:17 PM, Dayrelton wrote:

    What does AMAT supply to LDK in thin film? LDK is a polysi and wafer supplier.

  • Report this Comment On July 18, 2008, at 11:19 AM, ironcross42 wrote:

    Brettze, what makes you think AMAT is not sending work to Southeast Asia, China, and India? I work for AMAT and fully 60% of our information technology group are from Indian outsourcing companies. That includes Indian people living both in India and in the United States.

    Semiconductor customers require a high level of control. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere. The overseas companies do not yet have the infrastructure nor the process control to give semiconductor customers a level of comfort that the business will not be mismanaged.

    I agree with you about how Americans cannot compete with outsourcers in tech jobs. The savings is around 50% - not the 70% savings that you hear about so often. But, in disciplines like controls, compliance, and infrastructure security, the outsourcers are woefully lacking. That will change, but only after those companies are forced into controlling their processes through corporate scandals like Enron and Worldcom in the US.

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