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Bank of America Cuts Estimate for Applied Materials

Applied Materials (AMAT) posted a 4-cent second-quarter loss per share, vs. 3 cents earnings per share a year ago, on 4% lower revenue. The chip equipment maker reportedly sees 3 cents to 4 cents for third-quarter EPS. Bank of America says the outlook is disappointing, it cut its earnings estimate for the year.

Analyst Mark FitzGerald says new orders fell short in the quarter. He notes management gave flat guidance for new orders in July. He says margins were disappointing and demand for semi-equipment remains weak. He says the company is lurching from one quarter to the next relying on a handful of customers.

FitzGerald believes it's an environment that likely won't change any time soon. Although October new orders will likely be stronger, the sustainability of an improving order pattern is unlikely. He cuts his fiscal year 2004 (October) EPS estimate to 46 cents. The analyst has a $19 price target, but in the near term the stock is likely to trade in $10 to $15 range.

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