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Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc (KLIC) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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KLIC earnings call for the period ending January 2, 2021.

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Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc (KLIC 0.48%)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
Feb 4, 2021, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to the Kulicke & Soffa's 2021 First Fiscal Quarter Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

It is now my pleasure to turn the call over to Joe Elgindy. Please go ahead.

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Thank you. Welcome everyone to Kulicke & Soffa's fiscal first quarter 2021 conference call. Joining us on the call today are Fusen Chen, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Lester Wong, Chief Financial Officer. For those of you who have not received a copy of today's results, the release, as well as the supplemental earnings presentation are both available in the Investor Relations section of our website at investor.kns.com.

Beginning this period, we have changed our non-GAAP disclosures and adjusted the end market categorization of capital equipment sales. These changes better align non-GAAP reporting with our peer group and provide better insight to the underlying demand drivers expected to affect our business.

In addition to historical statements, today's remarks will contain statements relating to future events and our future results. These statements are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Our actual results and financial condition may differ materially from what is indicated in those forward-looking statements. For a complete discussion of the risks associated with Kulicke & Soffa that could affect our future results and financial condition, please refer to our recent SEC filings, specifically, the 10-K for the year ended October 3, 2020 and the 8-K filed yesterday.

With that said, I would now like to turn the call over to Fusen Chen for the business overview. Please go ahead, Fusen.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Joe. We are pleased to report strong financial performance, progress in all advanced display business and the improvement to our outlook on today's call. First, we have recently acquired U.S. based Uniqarta, Inc in and all-cash transaction, which enhance our competency and the ultimate potential in the fast growing advanced display market.

Even prior to this acquisition, we worked closely with Uniqarta to accelerate an adoption of advanced mini LED backlighting. By combining Uniqarta's domain knowledge and the unique intellectual property with our operational and development competency, we have improved our position in this exciting advanced display marketplace. We expect our next generation advanced display system will accelerate further adoption of advanced displays. But utilize locally controllable backlighting and also direct initiative micro LED approaches.

Across our fiscal year 2021, we expect to introduce an initial qualifications for our next generation advanced display system. We anticipate strong demand for this solution throughout fiscal year 2022 as broader LCD market begins to adopt new forms of backlighting.

Next, the ongoing strength of the general semiconductor and LED end market and ongoing recovery in automotive demand has improved our fiscal year outlook. Broad trend such as 5G and advanced display, as well as a fundamental transition in the automotive market has only recently become mentor to our business. We expect this new secular trend to provide significant growth and the market expansion opportunities over the coming years. The current demand for our product and solution is strong and stand for several areas.

First, the under investment in the back end capacity spending over the past three years was historically unique and that is now behind us and the return to more typical semiconductor unit growth most benefit our capital equipment market has just begun. Over the coming years, we expect semiconductor unit growth to exceed the historical average of 6% to 6.5%.

Next, we also see strong demand in our new advanced display business and expect multiple design win with our APAMA and Katalyst system, which will generate more significant revenue starting in fiscal 2022. We will provide more updates over the coming few quarters. Thirdly, we are also seeing increased capital intensity due to more complex backend assembly approaches. Increasing complexity is a more secular driver. We expect it accelerate further into the future. I will explain in more detail shortly.

Within our close alignment to this trend and ongoing interest from customers, our outlook has improved significantly since our prior earning call here on November 20. Currently, due to improved visibility into our second half, we are now anticipating revenue for the year to be approximately $1.1 billion, representing a significant improvement over 75% from fiscal year 2020. We have aggressively well our production capacity and are operationally prepared to support this higher level of demand. The ability to scale production quickly and efficiently is an inherent and the long established operational competency at K&S. With that said, we are closely monitoring broader supply chain and the logistical constraints. At this moment, we are comfortable we can achieve this steep year-on-year growth target.

Turning to our December quarter results, we generated $267.9 million, representing a 51% increase from the September quarter. The APS segment increased by 5% sequentially, driven by higher production level. We continue to make progress to expand our share within the APS market. Capital equipment represent 83% of overall revenue and increased by 65% sequentially, largely due to improvement within the general semiconductor, LED and auto industrial end markets.

During the December quarters, we deservedly get it our dedicated advanced packaging end market categories. What we previously did advanced packaging revenue is now primarily allocated to the general semiconductor end market. As we mentioned last quarter and I discussed earlier advanced package are more comfort assembly technique have become material component within our other end markets. This increasing complexity is largely related to the growth of multi-die package, which provide a cost-effective solution to extent form factor benefit. This approach helped to overcome the well-known North stream challenge, but increasing transistor density at the package label. We anticipate demand and the capacity needed for multi-die package will continue accelerating and will continue to improve capital intensity of our served market.

Within general semiconductor, we estimate over 40% of December sales, support multi-die assembly, which require more assembly capacity than a typical single-die package. Within memory over 60% of our exposure support segment, one of the highest volume and most transistor dense package available.

Finally, within the LED market above 50% is associated with advanced display. For the December quarter, we estimate 38% of capital equipment sales are supporting more complex advanced packaging applications. Increasing capital intensity of general semiconductor, LED and memory market. Turning to a composition of capital equipment sales in the December quarters. General semiconductor, which support a broad set of application such as smartphone and the consumer electronics continue to be very strong and has increased by nearly 70% sequentially.

As discussed, increasing complexity add an additional layer of demand to this critical end-market. The automotive and industrial end-market experienced a dramatic improvement over 100% sequentially. At this point, there are shortage of semiconductors throughout the automotive supply chain and we have experienced a strong sequential increase in utilization rate of our automotive installed base over the December period.

Due to this near-term dynamic come out with a broader long-term transition to fully electric and fully autonomous vehicle. We are optimistic on our outlook and look forward to further support our broad-base of automotive customers over the long-term. As expected LED demand has improved due to the ongoing adoption of our advanced display system and also sequential improvement for general lighting LED capacity.

Looking ahead, we are confident in our position, technology roadmap and customer engagement with both high-volume general lighting and also high growth advanced display applications. As a reminder despite clear challenge last year due to COVID-19, we were still able to achieve our fiscal year 2020 advanced display revenue target and expect a production ramp to continue through fiscal year 2022.

Our acquisition of Uniqarta further enhance our provision, within this exciting advanced display market and we anticipate a meaningful improvement to our outlook. We will provide additional feedback on our development progress and the longer-term advanced display expectations over the coming quarters.

After delayed period of meaningful market expansion, we are very optimistic in the near-term outlook and in our ability to publish the meaningful long-term and the more secular opportunities. We continue to focus on self market expansion through our participation within the the advanced LED market the fundamental transition in automotive and the ongoing adoption of more complex semiconductor assembly.

After two years of software demand, the industry momentum is currently very high. Our solution are increasingly align with this mega trend and we anticipate a transition into a multiple year expansion period. Over this period, we expect our self multi-growth will accelerate and provide additional opportunities to create lasting shareholder value.

I would now like to turn the call over to Lester Wong, who will cover this quarter's financial overview in greater detail. Lester?

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Thank you, Fusen. My remarks today will refer to GAAP results, unless noted. As Fusen mentioned, demand for our products and services remain strong in the December quarter revenue at $267.9 million, up 51% sequentially. We were again able to quickly flex operational capacity to support this dramatic sequential improvement.

Gross margins in December came in at 45.4% and we generated net income of $48.4 million and non-GAAP EPS of $0.86. At this level of business, our operating leverage becomes significant. During the December quarter, we generating operating margin of 20%, an increase of over 700 basis points from the September quarter.

Considering the operating leverage and our outlook, we expect to generate strong free cash flows over the coming years. We continue to be very focused on cost control despite the more favorable business conditions, which has helped drive December quarter operating expenses to be slightly better than expected. We also expect operating expenses to follow our historical model of approximately $53 million of fixed quarterly expense plus 5% to 7% of variable expense tied to revenue. We do not anticipate a material increase to our operating expense model as a result of the Uniqarta acquisition. Tax expense for the quarter came in at $6.3 million and we continue to target an 18% long-term effective tax rate. Although anticipate the effective tax rate coming closer to 15% in fiscal 2021.

Turning to the balance sheet. We ended the December quarter with a total net cash and investment position of $576.7 million, up $46.5 million sequentially, which represents $9.19 per diluted share. The Uniqarta acquisition closed in the March quarter and the cash impact will be reflected in our March quarter results.

Considering the strong current demand, we improved working capital efficiency during the December quarter. Days of accounts receivable was down from 101 days to 76 days, days of inventory improved from 113 the 77 days and days of accounts payable decreased slightly from 58 to 55 days.

For the March quarter, we continue to expect further demand improvement for our products and services. We expect revenues to be approximately $300 million, plus or minus $20 million. Gross margins are expected to be approximately 45.5% plus or minus 50 basis point due largely to product mix. GAAP operating expense is expected to be approximately $76 million, plus or minus 2% and non-GAAP EPS to be $0.88, plus or minus 10%.

This concludes our prepared comments. Operator, please open the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question today is coming from Tom Diffely from D.A. Davidson. Your line is now live.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Yeah, good morning and good afternoon. So just wanted to confirm the new outlook for 2021 -- fiscal '21 is $1.1 billion, up 75% year-over-year?

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

That is correct.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Well, so when you look at the -- obviously the very strong growth this year, in a way you can split it between, how much of it is driven by this unit growth in industry versus share gains maybe versus increased intensity for your tools?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So, Tom, I think due to few reason, number one, of course, in the past two years '19 and '20 because of semi downturn and under investment from customer and we're not go another way. So we expect this year will be slightly higher than 6% to 6.9%. So, number one, is really the unit growth coming back. The number two, I think it's a very significant. I think we have seen that different phenomena.

For example, the transition from 4G to 5G, we are seeing the demand full a multi-die package. Give example is our SIP module. So this module actually, typically have a four die to 40 dies. Actually demand increased significantly due to transition to 5G. And not only the amount of the multi-die package increased, the die is much more complicated. So the time to process this package also increased dramatically. So therefore, capital intensity increased.

So all this only I think we can give a guidance in normal year our base should be around $750 million. We take a three years average, I think, 2017 is normal year, '18 very strong year and '19 is a very bad year. So you take the average is about $750 million. So this should be a presentable number of our base line in the normal of the year.

And we estimate this complex additional multi-die package actually increase our capital intensity. We estimate will take another $100 million to business. So I don't know if I answer your question or not, and of course auto also coming back and are averaging it up, I think our baseline is much closer to $1 billion than before. That's why I think are seeing uptrend almost every of our product have a strong momentum and therefore, we feel comfortable that this year we should be able to touch $1 billion.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. Now that's, that's great. That's good color. So I guess I want to switch gears here and look at the acquisition of Uniqarta. So I guess couple of things first, is that a competitor to Lohini? Do they have any revenue associated with them? And is there any way to give us a rough idea of what the cost was?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So I will have Lester answer the cost. So I think Lohini, is our first partner and the product is called Pixalux. This is our first generation of mini and micro LED system. And in 2020 last year, we guide the Street and also we accomplished revenue around $40 million and in last earnings call, I think we guide the revenue for '21 will be $60 million to $80 million. I think we are more close to a high-end.

All the system, we are going to ship is Pixalux. So this is our first generation of the products and in my script, I also mentioned by the close of our fiscal 2021, we expect to announce our next generation of advanced display system and this will use 100% of our K&S IP after acquisition of Uniqarta. And the second-generation system is expected to contribute to our fiscal 2022 revenue.

So your question is the difference of these two system. How do we position it? I think around mid-2022, we will have a overlap of these two system and, but we believe our second-generation of our system which we utilize 100% own IP, we'll have a much higher productivity and should take off I think a lot time probably around middle of 2022. So I hope I answered your question, Tom.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Yeah. No, that's great, thanks.

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Position price was around $26 million.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay. Was there any revenue associated with that or was it just purely IP technology?

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

It's a purely technology acquisition.

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Great. Okay, thank you for your time.

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Thanks, Tom.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Tom.

Operator

Our next question today is coming from Krish Sankar from Cowen & Company. Your line is now live.

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Yeah, hi, thanks for taking my question. I had a couple of them. Fusan, you mentioned about how there has been under-investment in backend spend especially wire bonding. And ASC this morning also spoke about why bonding demand being tied through all of 2021. So I'm just kind of curious, what is your visibility today on wire bonders given what your big customers are saying? And should be assumed that if wire bonding is going to remain tight through all of 2021, are we going to add excess capacity this year? Or do you think it's going to be more smoother for the next couple of years? And then I had a couple of follow-ups.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Krish, I don't know if I understand fully your questions. Can you repeat again quickly?

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Sure. So, you spoke about under investment in wire bonding by the cuts for the last couple of years? So now that they're doing a catch-up investment, how long do you think it's going to last?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So let me put this way. I think the estimate from the market this year is about a trillion die -- semiconductor-die will be produced, roughly a trillion die. And the estimate over market share of the ball bonder, I think about 65% of this die processed by ball bonder between 65% to 70%. So ball bonder is here to stay. And the ball bonder also wins through a lot of our technology improvement. Although we did not provide very detail information. Actually, ball bonder a lot of technology associated with that.

For example, currently all the segment maturity actually is use the ball bonder and many, many there are risk taking and also multi-die package I mentioned, including SIP and also included multi-die module actually is very complicated ball bonder process.

So to answer your question, I think this year, the revenue for ball bonder is very strong. Maybe is a little bit strong than needed because of two year under investment. But we are quite optimistic that ball bonder is here to stay and the label actually the industry needed to support the overall industry growth, I think a ball bonder will continue to grow.

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Got it, got it. That makes sense. And then two other quick questions, one is on Pixalux, did you guys update your FY'21 revenue target for Pixalux or is it still $60 million to $80 million?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, that's correct. That's what we guide last quarter, but then I think we are running maybe like this quarter is about $22 million. So hopefully, we will reach the higher end or over a little bit this year for FY'21.

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Got it, got it. And then a final question, Fusen, on the Uniqarta acquisition, is it fair to assume that your Pixalux, the pick and place technology that works well for mini LED might not scale up for micro LED that's why you need a laser transfer approach for micro LED? Is that the way to think about the acquisition? Or are you going to still work in parallel to improve Pixalux placement speed?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. I think, the -- we do believe -- I know if you see the script our PR, press release, this is a laser basis technology. We believe the potential productivity is much, much faster. So I'll give you example, the large TV very, very large TV if you need mini or micro LED, you probably need to place about 25 million die. So we are just at the entrance stage of this industry's growth, right. We are talking about maybe less than 100 hours that is more, that means a the second process less than 100 die. I think in the future, the speed need to be much, much faster to support this industry's growth. That's why I think Uniqarta we chose it to be next generation of technology.

And I mentioned, we have Pixalux, and we have next generation, we believe may be around middle of 2022 will be crossover and the industry will decide which one will be the faster technology, and we feel like -- we will have a positive productivity probably for the Uniqarta based on the industry at large.

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Got it. Got it. Thanks, Fusen. And really, congrats on the strong results, thank you.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thanks. Our next question is coming from Craig Ellis from B. Riley. Your line is now live.

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks for taking the question and congrats as well on the strong execution in the quarter and meeting the tremendous upside demand. Fusen, I wanted to just start by going back to some of your comments on the market for fiscal '21 and thanks for all the color so far. The question is, as we look at the new fiscal '21 demand outlook for revenues of $1.1 billion, can you help us understand as you look into the back half of the fiscal year. Where do you have relatively higher or lower demand visibility across your different end market opportunities?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So Craig, the first quarter, I think we delivered $267.9 million. So the second quarter, I think we guide $300 million. So if you add this together is a little bit more than $550 million, I think $567 million. So we are looking at -- if you have a mirror image, so Q2, the second half can you be the mirror image of the first half. We expect Q4 probably will have a seasonality as usual, but is not going to be very significant. So if we model, Q1 is compatible to Q4 and Q2 and Q3 compatible. Actually, we got about $1.1 billion. So is that helped?

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

It does. But my question was actually a little bit different and it was really related to the visibility that you have into the demand that makes up that profile. So underneath that profile, is your visibility similar across auto things other end markets that you mentioned like 5G smartphones and gaming cards and consoles that are in consumer. I noticed that at least from the investor deck that memory revenue sort of very low in the quarter. Do you see memory coming back and if so, to what extent through the back half of the year?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So I think general semi is strong in all from Q1 to Q4 continuously. I think auto will start to be stronger this quarter. I think our conventional auto is also coming back, LED is helpful. So we do believe from Q1 we start to see auto will be quite strong and that will help our wedge bonder a lot.

And for the memory, at this moment, we don't see full recovery yet, but actually we see -- actually start to see recovery come in. So we do believe our next few quarter memory will start to pick up. So memory probably is last second one other than money AV [Phonetic] segment, I think we see very strong demand, but we already see initial investment of memory coming in. Also from a past few years, actually the industry utilization rates started going up and also the big growth per year, I think compound annual growth rate CAGR is consistently close to 30% every year. So we do believe our memory is on the way to come back.

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

That's very helpful. My next question goes back to some of the comments in prepared remarks from you and Lester and it relates to supply. So clearly a phenomenal operations quarter -- in the December quarter, meeting demand and then implied in the outlook for March with the $300 million in revenue. The question is this, if demand this year were to be meaningfully above the current $1.1 billion forecast, would the company have the ability to flex up supply further to meet that demand or at the current forecast you see either constraints or other bottlenecks that would preclude revenues from being higher than that, if any of that end markets that you just discussed proved to be stronger than we can now see?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So, I think the demand is really strong right now. But as you also know, the industry have a minor -- maybe a little bit more than minor problem for the supply chain constraints. We know there are component shortage also semiconductor die shortage and also some of our largest fiscal constrained for in the flat also have a difficult.

So, we are comfortable with a $1.1 billion goal, although, we still have upside, but the upside maybe will be constrained. At this moment the global supply chain constraints. But we are not going to give up, whatever we can do, we will try the best. So, to answer your question, I think this demand is also very dynamic. So, if you ask us, we can give you at this moment, it looks like there are still outside, but there are also significant headwind for the supply chain shortage and $1.1 billion is the number we feel comfortable and there are upside, but there is also risk that's why I think we need to monitor and pull our effort if we want to realize additional upside.

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

That's very helpful. And my last question is a longer-term question, and it goes back to the target model that the company set a few years ago. And the question is, it's clear that there appears to be across virtually all end markets demand strength that has underlying drivers that are multi-year in nature. When the company set its target model the midpoint -- the low-end was $1.15 billion. So you're almost getting to that low end this year with current guidance. The question is this, given the multi-year nature of demand, what are the gives and takes to potentially seeing the mid-term model revenues in fiscal '22? I believe that one underlying assumption there was a significant increase in services revenues, can those revenues ramp quickly enough, really to get us toward that $1.187 billion or might there be other areas of strength that are just greater? For example, the degree of advanced packaging uptake that could more than offset that, if that didn't come to deliver us toward that target financial model midpoint in fiscal '22? Thank you.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Okay. So I think with this significant ramp, of course, that is a little bit difficult to predict next year, but I think I mentioned today in the Q&A, original our guide -- guidance for the normal year this night is about $750 million. We are not with capital intensity. I think we are seeing effective because of capital intensity increase. So this very close to $1 billion much closer than before. And on top of that, I think we have upside on flip chip and TCB. These are new product for us, right. So for long-term, I think they are very important. Our flip chip is a very, very good at accuracy and very high productivity and TCB, I think we actually are quite comfortable with a few design win, hopefully we'll ramp up also for the next couple of years.

So we have flip chip, TCB display market, I think it can also be a upside for us and also APS. APS, I think, I'll give you example, 2017, our revenue maybe $140 million and then this 2020 is about $170 million. We do believe in these three years or three, four years, we have another upside for another $40 million, $50 million. So all you're adding together. So, hopefully I think what I answer is this, I think the industry next couple of years should be very, very healthy. So as long as the industry is healthy, I think our core business is very, very healthy for us and we also have upside, for LED I mentioned our dedicated advanced packaging flip chip and TCB and also our display and APS. I think we are quite optimistic for K&S and the whole industry for '21 and beyond.

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

So, Craig to add on what Fusen said, right, on top of the revenue it built for you, given our tremendous operating leverage, we believe that at above $1 billion, which again Fusen just indicated that there is a clear path to it on a sustainable basis that the operating leverage would allow us to have an EPS of between close to $3 on a sustainable basis.

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

That's very helpful, gentlemen. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from David Duley from Steelhead Securities. Your line is now live.

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. Congratulations on great results. I guess my question is, when I look at your backlog, it certainly suggest that your order rates were substantially above the revenue that you just reported, probably like $140 million above. Have your overall -- I guess that I'm assuming that your overall visibility has extended. Could you just help us kind of understand how much more visibility you have now? And then maybe help us understand have your lead times extended? What are your current lead times for wire bonders?

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

So, Dave our visibility has extended as we put in the backlog, customers are putting in PO at a tremendous rate not just for the next quarter, but for the remaining rest of the fiscal year given the very tight demand for our product as well for all products, as well as lead time, lead time now has gone up significantly. I would say it's almost up to about 40 weeks or so 30-40 weeks. So I think we do have much better visibility, which is why I think we were comfortable in terms of giving guidance of $1.1 billion for the year.

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Okay, great. As far as contribution, I think on the last conference call, roughly, your guidance for the year was like $780 million and now you bumped it up to $1.1 billion, could you just talk about the difference between what the delta is in your segments of business between the $780 billion and $1.1 billion roughly where you've kind of gone through this, but this is asking the question different way. Where did the upside come from in your annual model from the $780 billion to the $1.1 billion?

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Well, Dave, I think it's across all sectors to be honest, I mean, I think general semi is still -- is really driving the business, I mean general semi was close to about 74% of our revenues for this quarter and general semi basically went up by about, I guess, it went about 70%, right. Automotive more than doubled went about 100% from the December quarter and LED went up about 80%, right. So, we see strength across all the segments, I think, automotive is definitely coming back. And you can see that in terms of the headlines every day, in terms of the automotive companies having line down. So there is a real push right now. So again, I think the difference is just incredible across the board.

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Excellent. With this $1.1 billion kind of target of a revenue for the year as far as the operating margin performance going forward. I mean, I think you just achieved a number, we haven't seen for some time. Should we expect this 19% or 20% run rate, whatever, I guess it was 20%, is that kind of the expectation throughout this calendar year for an operating margin goal?

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Well, Dave, I don't guide below -- for the year below revenue. But I mean, I think if you do the math in terms so we believe the gross margin will be consistent around the level we have this quarter of between 45% to 46%. We believe that -- we always said expense opex is about $53 million to 5% to 7% variable and then there is -- I've just guided to a effective tax rate of 15%. So if you back it out, I think you got very close to the number you just said.

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Yeah, I think it does generate by the way, a little bit more than $3 in earnings. So, congratulations. I look forward to the business continuing to improve throughout the year.

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Yeah. Thank you, Dave.

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Dave.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]. Our next question is coming from Christian Schwab from Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Your line is now live.

Christian Schwab -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

Hey. Congratulations guys on just a fabulous quarter and outlook and the ability to ramp that. Fusen, as we listen to this and we look at some of your other peers on the back end, I'm curious, your thoughts on this, but it seems to me that we're seeing a tremendous industry shift in value that is actually just starting in the back end of the semiconductor equipment process where capital intensity is beginning to meaningfully increase something we saw when the NAND industry had to switched to 3D and when foundry, logic had to shrink sub-28. So we are seeing general semiconductors seeing increased volume in complex chips. Chips that used to be one package that are now four or six or eight. And on top of that, we're seeing drivers like 5G and automotive, medical, Wi-Fi upgrade cause disproportionate volume, even greater than the general industry is doing.

And with that multi-die packaging is creating increased complexity which is causing where we started increase capital intensity and it doesn't seem like there is other technologies that could disrupt this trend. It just seems where the industry is going in a post Moore's Law world, if you will, that we're just going to see more and more multiple chip packages for an extended period of time and we've under invested through for years. So unless there is some type of economic dislocation that is caused globally again, probably more than likely. If we can get COVID under control. I mean the out -- this could be very similar to the shift that we saw in the front end, this could be three to five year trend that just keeps on going and then stays extremely capitally intense, especially if you're going to go from 200 million 5G smartphones to 3 billion plus or minus over the next four to five years. Am I thinking about that, right? Is that's what you guys are trying to say?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Yeah, I think -- yeah, actually we agree. We are quite optimistic overall industry and Christian on top of what you say, I think we also tried to get into very exciting new business like the spread and I think this will also provide additional engine for us and we do believe at this moment, we have a best two of our industries and we are going to keep in our differentiation against our any potential competitor. So with the strength in the industry and also more than More's law industrial trend and plus new opportunity we are getting in, I think we are quite optimistic at this moment.

Christian Schwab -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

All right. I guess, my last question has to do with cash. What are your thoughts, we are over the course of the next few years with these type of trends and revenues and the way your model flexes, we're going to have substantial amount of cash on the balance sheet in a couple of years. Can you give us -- and you already have a substantial amount. So can you give us an idea if you think about you have been historically a very shareholder friendly repurchaser of your shares in the open market. But can you kind of tell us kind of what you're thinking as far as cash?

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. I will add something and then I have Lester also contribute few sentence. So, at this moment, because I give you example of Pixalux, from the day our development would generate revenue. I think we pick a little bit just more than two years and we are seeing the sizable revenue. So we also believe we have a few other products maybe in the same way and we will continue also in the new display industry.

So, let the story short, in the short-term, I think that we have many growth engine and Uniqarta is additional one, we believe additional technology can help us grow. This is one path, I think we probably like a lot and we are doing dividend. We're doing stock buyback. We are not going to give up, this will continue. So if M&A, I think will be the last choice. I think we will be very, very careful. I think that in the short-term there is rent we need to deal with. And there is a lot of new technology that can aid for our future growth and they are in a start-up stage and we are also looking at many of these.

So, mega story short, I think the organic growth, we are quite confident we can do very, very good. Just internal grow by ourselves by acquire somewhat special technology, that's one-way. And for the shareholder return, dividend and also buyback, we will continue and even M&A, like elections come up, we will not give up. But so far I think that we are not paying huge of attention in the bigger M&A at this moment.

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Yeah. So Christian, I think we have always consistently deploy the cash as quickly as it comes available like in the different geographies, because obviously, as we've mentioned before we had some restrictions in bringing some cash onshore. And I think as Fusen said, we have deployed a significant portion of our free cash flow in terms of both the share repurchase as well as the dividend. I mean on the share repurchase, we've returned close to 80% of free cash flow to our shareholders in 2015.

As you look at last year that's fiscal 2020, we returned close to 110%, year before over close 250%. So I think that's significant. I think the other uses of cash. As Fusan allocated is that we do believe that there will continue to be interesting technology bolt-on that will help accelerate our development like Uniqarta has for our advanced display as well as for some adjacency technologies that will help us build, and then also, again, we do look at prudent acquisition a reminder is the acquisition of Assembleon is what allowed us basically to have Pixalux and the next generation because that's based on the Assembleon platform.

So I think between all those, we will continue to kind of closely monitor the cash situation and we talk about capital allocation every quarter both, Fusen does with the Board. So we'll do what's prudent both in terms of organic initiatives, like Pixalux, like our advanced packaging plus technology buys in terms of like Uniqarta, and then obviously return to the dividend and optimistically share repurchases.

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Yeah. That's fantastic. No other questions. Again, congratulations on great results and outlook. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. We reached the end of our question-and-answer session. I'd like to turn the floor back over to Joe for any further or closing comments.

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Thanks, Kevin, and thank you to our participants for joining in today's call. We will be presenting at several upcoming conferences over the coming months. As always, please feel free to follow up directly with any additional questions. Have a great day, everyone. This concludes our call. Thanks.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 50 minutes

Call participants:

Joseph Elgindy -- Senior Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Initiatives

Fusen Chen -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Lester Wong -- Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice-President

Tom Diffely -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Krish Sankar -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Craig Ellis -- B. Riley FBR, Inc. -- Analyst

David Duley -- Steelhead Securities -- Analyst

Christian Schwab -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group.

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