Sales jumped 75% year over year to $46.1 million, but the analyst consensus stood at $52.9 million. The GAAP bottom line looked tremendous at $1.12 per share, but most of that profit came from a one-time tax benefit. The adjusted $0.34 of net income per share fell far short of the $0.51 analyst estimate.
A rosy view of the future kept Nanometrics from falling any harder than today's 5% price drop. The semiconductor industry as a whole doubled capital investments in 2010 compared to 2009, according to Nanometrics CEO Tim Stultz. But that investment level was even higher in the glory days of 2006 and 2007, and Stultz expects a continuing trend back to those good old levels.
The company stopped giving guidance back in 2007 because of an uncertain business outlook and a lack of faith in Nanometrics' own execution. Management is getting back into the guidance game since those negative factors have subsided, with this beautifully Foolish caveat: "We will do our best to perform toward those levels, but we will not compromise our future growth or profitability simply to meet the guidance or consensus estimates."
With that in mind, Nanometrics expects to see about $0.40 of earnings per share and about $58 million in sales next quarter, which is in line with earnings expectations and optimistic in terms of sales. Just don't hold the company too tightly to those numbers.
Add Nanometrics to your watchlist to follow the chip equipment sector up close and personal.
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