Markets & Finance

AG Edwards Downgrades KLA Tencor to 'Hold'

AG Edwards downgraded KLA Tencor (KLAC) to hold from buy.

Analyst Christopher Chaney says since early October, KLA has climbed more than 70%, yet prospects for the semiconductor or equipment markets haven't changed much. Chaney says a recent industry 0.73 book/bill ratio showed total orders are down again, albeit at a slower pace. Chaney considers the deceleration in order declines as a mildly positive sign, but not a turnaround indicator.

He still doesn't believe spending levels from chip makers -- KLA's customers -- will support impressive growth for equipment makers in 2003. Instead, he sees more robust growth in 2004 as utilization levels are expected to be higher in late 2003.

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