Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) may be looking at a new Chief Financial Officer, but one Wall Street bulge bracket firm has no concern here whatsoever. Applied's shares have risen with the market today. What stands out is a research call where Goldman Sachs has raised the "Buy" rating classification. Applied Materials is now being added to the widely followed and highly prized Conviction Buy List at the firm.
Today's call was an intraday call and that often garners more interest than if it is in the myriad of the morning analyst calls which take place each day between the prior day's close and before the stock market open. The firm is touting it is a positive that naming Bob Halliday as CFO is a real positive move for Applied Materials. It is rare to see a CFO replacement being cited as a reason for such an upgrade.
Goldman Sachs believes that Halliday will be able to continue with his goal-setting and with cost containment efforts that he had at Varian Semiconductor which ultimately helped it score a significant buyout premium by Applied. The move also comes when Applied Materials is already much closer to its 52-week highs.
When we see a call of this magnitude it is hard to not recall what we deem as perhaps the most bullish semiconductor analyst call so far in 2013. In mid-January, Credit Suisse called what it saw as an "Irresistible Cyclical Bottom in Semiconductors." That call was actually on real chip-makers rather than on the CapEx side of the chip business but it is hard to have an explosive growth in one sector without any gains in the other. Still, shares of Applied Materials were trading at only $11.63 when that call was made.
After a 2.3% gain on Tuesday, Applied Materials shares are higher by 2.3% at $13.55 against a 52-week range of $9.95 to $13.99. The company's market capitalization is $16.25 billion and the consensus price target on the stock is $14.38 according to Thomson Reuters.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Analyst Calls, Semiconductor, Semiconductors, Technology, Technology Companies Tagged: AMAT