Posted by: The Global Ripple | June 21, 2008

Applied Materials gets solar order

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Applied Materials Inc. snagged a $1.9 billion order to help build multiple solar panel factories, a major milestone in the expansion efforts of the world’s largest maker of equipment used in making computer chips, the company said Tuesday.

The Santa Clara-based company disclosed the sales victory in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying only that its customer is a privately held company outside the United States.

The $1.9 billion covers the cost of equipment to assemble solar panels and services to make sure they work properly.

Applied Materials thrives when chip makers upgrade their factories but has expanded into other markets such as solar power to help weather the downtime between cycles and tap into a burgeoning new sales stream.

Global economic pressures also can weigh on the company: In January the company said it was cutting 1,000 jobs, or 7 percent of its work force, a response to technology companies tightening their pursestrings amid mounting fears of a U.S. recession.

The company entered the market for equipment used to make solar power cells in 2006 with its $484 million acquisition of Applied Films, whose equipment is used to make solar cells, energy-efficient glass and liquid crystal displays, known as LCDs.

Shares of Applied Materials jumped $1.44, or more than 7 percent, to close at $20.32. They gained 7 more cents in after-hours trading.

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