) to sector perform from sector underperform.
Analyst Ali Irani says his upgrade is based on valuation and increased visibility for the chip-equipment maker. He thinks a 20% pullback provides an attractive near-term trading opportunity within the extendable cycle still in its early stages. He notes valuation is at premium to Varian's immediate peer group, but he expects a better outlook for revenue (on pull-ins) and margins (on mix and volume).
Irani thinks the company is benefiting from rising pricing power in the medium current implant segment, favorable mix shifts, and better than expected high current shipments into the 90nm ramp. He upped the $1.20 2004 earnings per share estimate to $1.32, and upped the $1.85 estimate for 2005 to $2.80.