What is the outlook for orders for SPE in the January-March 2012 period? Also, what are the trends by application?
We project that orders in the January-March period will fall below 100 billion yen. Since some investment for logic and foundry had been brought forward to the October-December 2011 period, investment for logic and foundry in the January-March period will decrease. There are also indications that some orders for memory, which had been projected for the January-March period, will be pushed out.
What is the outlook for orders for SPE in the April-June period?
At this stage, we believe that orders in the April-June period will be higher than the January-March period, but we still have to ascertain the rate of increase.
While it seems that sales of SPE will spring back considerably in the January-March 2012 period, doesn't that mean that operating income will finish higher than your full-year projection of 57 billion yen?
Given the mix of SPE products currently anticipated for the January-March period (4Q), both sales and profits in this period are expected to be on par with the July-September period (2Q). Consequently, at present, there are no changes to our earnings forecast.
What is the cause of the recent weakness in orders for NAND flash memory? Also, what will be the driving force behind NAND flash memory?
Customers are making decisions with more caution than before. If an increase in demand for end products such as state-of-the-art smartphones can be confirmed, investment for NAND flash memory will also increase.
What is the outlook for SPE capex in 2012?
We expect a decrease of about 10% on a fiscal year basis, and just over 10% on a calendar year basis. This is how we see it at the moment, but there is a good chance that things may change in three months' time.
What is the outlook for the introduction of quadruple patterning lithography?
This will be determined by how customers evaluate it compared to EUV lithography. Any full-scale introduction would not be until next year at the earliest.
What is the business environment surrounding TSV like, and what is its potential for Tokyo Electron?
TSV is an area of focus for us, but due to technical factors and other reasons, the adoption of TSV in mass-production by customers is lagging two years behind what they initially expected. This will not happen until 2013 at the earliest. The technology will definitely come sooner or later though, and so we remain committed.
How is your company's technological capability in etch systems compared to your competitors?
We're starting to see good results in the area of poly etch systems. In addition to gaining a market share in conventional poly etch systems, our technology for RLSA etch systems has also been acknowledged by some customers. Assuming investment in this RLSA mass production happens in two years' time, this will lead to further improvement in our market share in overall etch systems.
Industry is facing a difficult business environment for FPDs. What measures do you have in place for posting a profit next year?
With neither customers nor equipment suppliers turning a reasonable profit for FPDs, it bears the aspect of a structural recession. We don't think it is some temporary dip, and so a fundamental review is needed. We will redirect some resources to OLED and other new businesses in the growing SPE area. We will also forge ahead with cost reductions, such as by raising overseas procurement rates and utilizing plant in China.
How is the progress of OLED production equipment?
We have completed G4.5 demo lines for both the evaporation method and inkjet method. We see this year as an important year for demonstrating our technological advantages to our customers.
Could you please tell us again about your policy on M&A?
Our consideration of growth strategies, while focused on in-house development, also includes M&A. We will make any decisions once we have thoroughly examined the investment and return. As for targets of M&A, we are looking at a wide range of potential targets, in Japan and overseas alike.
What is your position on share buy-backs?
In terms of how cash is used, our first consideration is for growth strategies, including M&A. If, after that, there are still surplus cash available, then we will also consider share buy-backs.