AMAT Beats the Street as Stocks Tumble

Applied Materials (NASDAQ: AMAT) provided a little hope for the tech sector on a day that saw most tech stocks lose ground.

After the close on Tuesday, AMAT posted a 39 percent year-over-year sales decline to $1.13 billion, but that was well above the $958 million Thomson Reuters forecast. The company’s non-GAAP loss of $2 million, or breakeven on a per-share basis, was better than the 8-cent-a-share loss that analysts expected.

The chip equipment maker’s sales were up 10 percent sequentially from the previous quarter, with the biggest improvement coming in the Silicon Systems Group (SSG).

The company also raised its current-quarter guidance and predicted a return to profitability.

“In a difficult environment, Applied improved its operating performance and generated significant cash flow while making substantial investments in new technologies for next-generation semiconductor chips, flat panel displays and solar panels,” CEO Mike Splinter said in a statement.

AMAT shares gained 2 percent in after-hours trading.

The broader market fell ahead of the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting, as financial stocks led the way lower.

VMware (NYSE: VMW) slipped 2.2 percent on an acquisition.

Losses were evenly spread among the Nasdaq’s biggest names, with Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) and Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) among the names losing more than the Nasdaq’s 1.1 percent decline.

EchoStar (NASDAQ: SATS) soared 19 percent on its results and a Citigroup upgrade.

The Nasdaq fell 22 to 1969, the S&P 500 lost 12 to 994, and the Dow shed 96 to 9241. Volume rose to 5.77 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.97 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led by a 27-10 margin on the NYSE, and 19-7 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 81 percent on the NYSE, and 76 percent on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 70-36 on the NYSE, and 38-11 on the Nasdaq.

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