Needham upgraded Nanometrics (NANO ) to buy from hold.
Analyst Cristina Osmena says a fundamental story is starting to take shape in the face of an improved semiconductor environment. She says after meeting with management, she believes the company's long-standing presence in Japan should translate into healthy exposure to growth in equipment spending that's expected to come from that region. She notes revenues from Japan represented 30% of the company's sales last quarter, vs. 15% in the prior quarter.
Also, she says talks with metrology suppliers show that optical CD technology is being adoped by chipmakers, which should benefit Nanometrics. She finds the stock attractively valued.