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Why Shares of Lam Research Corporation Took Off

By Alex Planes - Apr 21, 2015 at 1:47PM

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Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

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 Lam Research (LRCX 6.16%) are trading 8% higher today after initially popping by as much as 13% at the opening bell. Lam's shares have been eagerly bought up in the wake of its strong fiscal-third-quarter earnings report, which was released yesterday afternoon.

So what: Lam's revenue came in at $1.39 billion, up 14% year-over-year and better than Wall Street's expectations for $1.37 billion. The company's adjusted earnings of $1.40 per share were 11% better than the year-ago quarter's result, and also came in $0.10 higher than Wall Street's expectations. Lam also offered guidance for the fourth quarter, projecting revenue in the range of $1.41 billion to $1.51 billion and EPS in the range of $1.39 to $1.53. Both guidance ranges trounce Wall Street's expectations for $1.38 billion in sales and $1.35 in EPS.

Now what: Yesterday's outperformance comes at a critical juncture for Lam. The chip-making equipment supplier's shares had been reeling over concerns that DRAM chip demand and pricing would weaken in 2015, and also over news that the twin titans of global chip fabrication, Intel (INTC 3.21%) and Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM 2.14%), would both reduce their capital spending by at least $1 billion for the year.

However, Lam's third-quarter beat and high fourth-quarter expectations reflect, in Lam CEO Martin Anstice's words, that the company's "differentiated products and services are directly addressing the market-driving technology inflections." By focusing on the bleeding edge, which includes chip technologies like 3D transistors, Lam continues to stay ahead of the game.

Investors should especially cheer the fact that its trailing 12-month EPS has risen more than sevenfold since the end of 2012, far outpacing either the growth of its revenue (up 60%) or the growth of its share price (up 115%) over the same time frame. Its P/E of 19.2 is also attractive in an industry that's full of dramatically overvalued companies with far less time-tested business models. Yesterday's beat and guidance make Lam Research appear to be a solid investment for tomorrow and beyond.

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Stocks Mentioned

Lam Research Corporation Stock Quote
Lam Research Corporation
$450.19 (6.16%) $26.11
Intel Corporation Stock Quote
Intel Corporation
$38.61 (3.21%) $1.20
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited Stock Quote
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited
$85.92 (2.14%) $1.80

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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