Shares of semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker Photronics (PLAB -1.61%) exploded higher in Wednesday trading -- up a solid 19% as of 10:35 a.m. ET -- after the company reported strong results for its fiscal 2021 fourth quarter.
Analysts had forecast that Photronics, which produces quartz and glass "photomasks" used as guides to manufacture semiconductors and flat panel displays, would earn $0.25 per share on sales of $175 million. In fact, for the period, which ended Oct. 31, Photronics earned $0.33 per share -- 32% more than predicted -- on sales of $181.3 million.
Sales for the quarter surged 21% year over year, accelerating rapidly from the 9% pace set for fiscal 2021 as a whole, and helping Photronics to achieve "a fourth consecutive year of record revenue," as CEO Peter Kirlin pointed out. Full-year revenues were $663.8 million.
Earnings more than tripled for the quarter, compared to fiscal Q4 2020. For the fiscal year, Photronics' earnings rose 71% to $0.89 per share.
Looking ahead, Kirlin noted that "past investments in targeted technologies are paying off, as margin expansion is accompanying top-line growth," and said the company is "generating gross and operating margins already at the high-end of [Photronics'] three-year target model."
As a result, the company thinks that in the first quarter of its fiscal 2022, it can generate sales of between $178 million and $186 million, and earnings per share in the $0.27 to $0.34 range. For context, the current consensus among Wall Street analysts is that Photronics will earn $0.22 per share on sales of less than $171 million in the quarter.
Conclusion: After crushing earnings estimates last quarter, Photronics is lining up to do it all over again next quarter. No wonder investors are cheering.