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Lam Research Corp (LRCX) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool

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Lam Research Corp (NASDAQ:LRCX)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Jan 27, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Lam Research’s December Quarter Financial Conference Call. At this time I’d like to turn the conference over to Ms. Tina Correia Corporate Vice President of Finance and Investor Relations. Please go ahead ma’am.

Tina CorreiaCorporate Vice President-Investor Relations & Corporate Finance

Thank you and good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the Lam Research Quarterly Earnings Conference Call. With me today are Tim Archer President and Chief Executive Officer; and Doug Bettinger Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. During today’s call we will share our overview on the business environment and we’ll review our financial results for the December 2020 quarter and our outlook for the March 2021 quarter. The press release detailing our financial results was distributed a little after 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time this afternoon. The release can also be found on the Investor Relations section of the company’s website along with the presentation slides that accompany today’s call. Today’s presentation and Q&A include forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties reflected in the risk factors disclosed in our SEC public filings. Please see accompanying slides in the presentation for additional information. Today’s discussion of our financial results will be presented on a non-GAAP financial basis unless otherwise specified. A detailed reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP results can be found in today’s earnings press release. This call is scheduled to last until 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time. A replay of this call will be made available later this afternoon on our website.

And with that I’ll hand the call over to Tim.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks Tina and good afternoon everyone. 2020 was a remarkable year for Lam Research. Our global teams rose to meet the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered the best year in our history. Total revenue of $11.9 billion and earnings per share of $20.45 were both record highs for the company driven by served available market market share and customer support business growth. Through the year we also launched new products and announced breakthrough technology solutions that we believe lay the foundation for our continued success. Before going into details I want to express my sincere thanks to our teams for their incredible execution in an extraordinarily difficult environment and to our customers and suppliers for their partnership and support as we all adapted to the unforeseen events of 2020.

We entered the new year with hope that the world would soon emerge from the COVID-19 health crisis and move toward a global recovery. From our view WFE spending in 2020 ended in the high $50 billion range. This is about what we estimated at our Investor Day in March just before the extent of COVID-19’s impact was known. We saw spending growth across all segments of the market led by a recovery in NAND continued expansion in foundry/logic and a slight pickup in DRAM. China domestic spending for the year was in the $10 billion-plus range. As we look to 2021 we see strong momentum across all parts of our business. Our early view is for substantial WFE growth to the high $60s billion to $70 billion range supported by the ongoing migration to higher layer counts in NAND a strong spending environment in DRAM and increased investment in foundry/logic as indicated by recent customer commentary. Currently we are seeing spending biased somewhat toward the first half of 2021. While today’s absolute levels of WFE are significantly higher than a few years ago we believe the rapid digitization of the global economy combined with rising capital intensity due to greater process complexity supports robust multiyear WFE spending. In fact if there’s a common theme that underpins our outlook for the next several years it is that sustainable growth throughout the semiconductor value chain will be driven by the proliferation of artificial intelligence high performance computing IoT 5G and the incredible societal advances and user experiences these technologies enable. We expect strong demand from a diverse set of end-use markets to positively impact semiconductor and semiconductor equipment growth in 2021 and beyond.

Take for example the $200 billion global online gaming market. Nearly three billion people worldwide actively play video games across a variety of platforms generating over the last five years more than a 50% CAGR in data growth as users embrace realistic experiences enabled by more powerful processors faster memory and higher graphics resolution. If you just look at a subsegment of the broader gaming market namely gaming consoles the number of these units shipped annually is much smaller than the number of smartphones sold. However when you consider that a GPU for a gaming console is approximately 4x the size of a smartphone application processor this is an important driver of incremental WFE. From a memory and storage perspective newer consoles utilize approximately twice the DRAM bits and employ SSD-based storage versus HDD in prior generations.

Add rising capital intensity trends on top of this semiconductor content growth and the impact on WFE increases further. We estimate that a 5% upside in the gaming console market has the potential to drive about $500 million of incremental WFE. And this is just one end-use market example. If we similarly look at the impact of the 5G phone market we see that 5% incremental demand in 5G units has the potential to drive close to $1 billion in incremental WFE. It is demand drivers such as these that have strengthened our conviction around the sustainability of WFE spending over a multiyear period. It is against this positive backdrop that Lam remains focused on executing to our long-term objectives for SAM expansion market share gains and installed base business growth we described at our Investor Day last March. In NAND we continue to extend our strong leadership position. We estimate that our tools have now cumulatively processed approximately 37 million more wafers than our nearest competition through the three most critical 3D NAND applications. Since we first provided this metric at our Investor Day less than one year ago we have widened the wafers processed experience gap by more than 40%.

The accelerated learning that comes from our installed base of 3D NAND systems puts Lam in the best position to deliver the solutions needed to meet our customers’ next-generation manufacturing challenges. It also allows us to gain early insight into new opportunities being created by technology inflections. For example in 2020 we announced our new Striker FE atomic layer deposition system which employs a unique ICEFill capability for high aspect ratio dielectric gapfill. This tool addresses a new technology need for 3D NAND devices scaling to 128 layers or more. And production ramp of Striker FE is under way at multiple customers. 2020 also saw the launch of Sense.i our next-generation etch platform. And today we announced our new Vantex high aspect ratio dielectric etch module on Sense.i. Vantex features advanced RF technology and new uniformity enhancements to enable next-generation device road maps. Vantex and Sense.i together collect more data per wafer than ever before enabling advanced equipment intelligence and to deliver new levels of productivity and process control.

The timing of our Vantex launch intercepts DRAM and NAND road maps facing increasingly complex node-to-node scaling challenges. As a result Vantex is already in qualification with both DRAM and NAND customers and repeat orders have been received to ramp this system into high-volume production in 2021. For foundry/logic we continue to target new technology inflections to expand our opportunity and position. Our KIYO GX conductor etch system has been engineered with an advanced RF pulsing capability to meet the unique requirements of extremely narrow high aspect ratio features. It also provides extendability to future devices featuring nanowire or nanosheet architectures. Leading-edge foundry/logic customers are increasingly adopting KIYO GX for their most critical front-end-of-line applications at 5-nanometer and beyond where the need for atomic-level precision etch becomes more acute.

Moreover as devices scale parasitic RC degrades transistor performance. As a result we are seeing increasing customer pull for Lam’s etch and deposition solutions designed to reduce our RC effects including atomic layer etch for self-aligned contacts new functional films and optimized metal solutions which reduce wear and line resistance by simplifying middle-of-line and back-end-of-line process flows. In DRAM we are seeing incremental share in SAM growth also coming from growing complexity of node transitions. We assess that we have greater than 50% etch market share in DRAM. And due to the importance of high-quality hard masks and mask open etches with EUV we expect additional patterning share gains in etch and deposition as EUV passes increase at future nodes. Adoption of EUV in foundry/logic and DRAM is also creating a significant SAM expansion opportunity for Lam’s dry photoresist solution. Using this new technology we believe we can accelerate our growth in both foundry/logic and DRAM by disrupting the existing wet photoresist equipment market. Our solution is gaining significant traction with leading customers as they look to improve the cost metrics of EUV patterning.

Changes of this magnitude do take time to realize but with tools now being installed and wafers being run for top DRAM and foundry/logic customers we are pleased with our progress readying this innovative technology for production. And finally 2020 was another outstanding year for our Customer Support Business Group. Our installed base has now reached nearly 66000 chambers and CSBG revenue growth exceeded chamber growth by a factor of more than 2x for the 2020 calendar year. We generated record revenues for all subsegments within CSBG. Growth in our Reliant business was driven by automotive 5G and consumer electronics and we expect these areas to continue to outpace overall market growth in coming years. Meanwhile we delivered on the expectations we set on our last earnings call for calendar year growth of 25% in productivity-focused services and 6x growth in remote support engagements. We are excited about the trajectory and broad strength of this business and especially its proven ability to deliver world-class support of complex technologies in high-volume manufacturing. To wrap up Lam marked its 40th anniversary in 2020 with record financial performance a strong slate of innovative new products and services and solid execution on our strategy to expand leadership across markets. As our March quarter guidance suggests we are optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for Lam and believe we are in an excellent position to win.

Thanks again. And now here’s Doug.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Excellent. Thank you Tim. Good afternoon and thank you all for joining us today on what I know is a very busy earnings time. I hope you and your families have been safe and healthy since we last spoke with you. I’m really quite pleased to be reporting these outstanding results. We came in at the high end or exceeded the range for all guided metrics in the December quarter. Despite the challenges we faced during 2020 related to the global pandemic Lam delivered record financial performance in revenue operating income dollars and earnings per share. Our December quarter revenue came in at $3.46 billion at the high end of our guidance range and represented an increase of 9% from the September quarter. The strength of our performance was driven by investments in all device segments as our customers ramped to meet the demands from a diverse set of end markets such as data centers smartphones PCs gaming consoles IoT and automotive.

Overall our revenue increase was not only driven by the wafer fab equipment needs of the industry but also by the continuous growth of our installed base. We continue to add value to our customers by delivering spare parts equipment upgrades refurbished tools and advanced service offerings. Looking at the details of our systems revenue the memory segment was strong in the December quarter coming in at 68% of systems revenue. This strength was driven by the NAND segment which represented 51% of our systems revenue versus 39% in the prior quarter. December was a record revenue level of NAND quarterly revenue dollars for the company. We have clear leadership positions in the NAND segment with customers investing in equipment for 64- 96- and 128-layer devices. DRAM investments contributed 17% of our systems revenue. DRAM spending was spread over the 1Y 1Z and 1-alpha nodes. The revenue percentage was down slightly from the 19% in the September quarter. We expect continuing healthy investments in the combined memory market as we see prudent inventory and profitability management.

On the foundry segment side spending remains robust. We concluded 2020 with a record level of revenue dollars in this segment. The majority of the investments in the December quarter were concentrated at the leading-edge 7- and 5-nanometer nodes. Foundry represented 26% of our systems revenue for the quarter versus 36% in the September quarter. Rounding out the systems revenue picture logic and other contributed the remaining 6% of systems revenue in the December quarter which was flat with the prior quarter level. From a regional revenue perspective we continue to see solid levels of investment in the China region coming in at 35% of total revenues. Different than the last several quarters the majority of the China spending this quarter came from our global multinational customers investing in their China-located fabs. As Tim noted we achieved another record quarter of revenue for our Customer Support Business Group coming in at $1.1 billion which is an increase of 12% from the September quarter and over 35% higher than the same quarter in 2019.

The growth we’ve seen in each of the subsegments of this business is a testament to the value we’re providing to our customers for technology and productivity enhancements. We remain very comfortable with our commitment to deliver greater than 40% cumulative CSBG revenue growth between 2019 and 2023 as we outlined at our Investor Day in March of last year. The December quarter gross margin was 46.6% generally in line with our expectations. As I’ve noted in the past gross margin could fluctuate quarter-to-quarter due to overall business levels along with customer and product mix. In the quarter our factory utilization levels improved with the increased business volume. I would mention we do have continued headwinds to gross margin related to elevated costs for airfreight that will impact us until freight claims get back to more normalized levels. Operating expenses for December came in at $563 million which is an increase from the prior quarter largely as a result of increased incentive compensation expense that was tied to our higher profitability levels.

During calendar year 2020 we spent over $1.3 billion in research and development which represents approximately 2/3 of our operating expenses. The R&D focus is a fundamental part of offering differentiated products and capabilities like Sense.i and Vantex enhanced ALD and dry resist that deliver on our long-term growth objectives. We had over $1 billion in operating income in the December quarter for the first time in company history with operating margin at the high end of the guidance range coming in at 30.3%. This was due to our strong revenue and gross margin. Our non-GAAP tax rate for the quarter was 11.5%. As we’ve discussed in the past we will have fluctuations in tax rate from quarter-to-quarter and you should continue to expect the ongoing tax rate to be in the low teens level for the 2021 calendar year. I would mention we are monitoring potential tax changes that may arise from the new administration in the United States. Other income and expense was approximately $53 million in expense fairly flat with the prior quarter.

I would like to remind you that beginning in the March 2020 quarter the benefits and costs of our employee deferred compensation plan are no longer mismatched in our non-GAAP results. They are mismatched in the GAAP results. This mismatch was $24 million in the December quarter. You can see this in the GAAP reconciliation table of our earnings release. The fluctuations were higher this quarter due to the volatility in the market. Let me now turn to our capital return activity. For the December quarter we paid $188 million in dividends and allocated $703 million toward share repurchase. During the quarter our Board approved an additional $5 billion share repurchase authorization. For calendar year 2020 we repurchased 3.8 million shares deploying $1.4 billion at an average repurchase price of approximately $360 per share. We also paid out dividends totaling approximately $686 million during the year. In total our capital return activities represented close to 100% of our free cash flow. I’d also mention that since we increased the level of our capital return back in 2017 we’ve paid out $2.1 billion in dividends and deployed $9.3 billion toward buybacks repurchasing 47.3 million shares at an average price of $198 per share.

Diluted earnings per share came in at $6.03 a little above the guidance range and more importantly at an all-time high for the company. Our diluted share balance was down slightly from the September quarter coming in at 146 million shares pretty much as we forecast. The share count includes the dilutive impact of approximately 800000 shares from the 2041 convertible notes. Let’s now look at the balance sheet. Cash and short-term investments including restricted cash decreased to $6.3 billion from $6.9 billion in the prior quarter largely due to the capital return activities that I discussed previously. Days sales outstanding increased to 76 days in the December quarter from 66 days in September.

The increase is largely due to revenue linearity and the timing of collections that fell in the March fiscal quarter. I just mentioned that we collected $136 million on the first day of the March 2021 quarter and over $570 million during the first week. Inventory turns were slightly up from the prior quarter level coming in at 3.2x. Cash flow from operations came in at $345 million which is somewhat depressed as a result of the growth in accounts receivable and inventory. We’ve grown inventory to support the higher expected March business volumes and to mitigate supply chain risks from any potential disruption from the COVID-19 environment. Noncash expenses included approximately $52 million for equity compensation $59 million for depreciation and $17 million for amortization. Capital expenditures for the December quarter increased from September to a total of $92 million. We are investing to support the expanding operations at our new Malaysia factory our manufacturing facility in Ohio that’s focused on critical spare parts and the recently announced Korea Technology Center. We expect to see somewhat higher levels of capital expenditures in 2021 as we support these critical initiatives. Ending headcount for the December quarter was approximately 12200 regular full-time employees. Resources have been added to support the increased business volume in our factories to service our customers in the field and to further enhance our R&D capabilities. Now looking ahead I’d like to provide our non-GAAP guidance for the March 2021 quarter.

We’re expecting revenue of $3.7 billion plus or minus $200 million; gross margin of 46% plus or minus one percentage point; operating margins of 30.5% plus or minus one percentage point; and finally earnings per share of $6.55 plus or minus $0.40 based on a share count of approximately 145 million shares. Tim has already given you our outlook for 2021 WFE. I’d just reiterate we do think it will be a somewhat first half-weighted spend although things could change as the year unfolds. You should take that into account as you build your models for the year. So in summary we just concluded the best financial year in Lam Research’s history. Additionally we provided guidance for March that represents another record level of financial performance. The company is executing well in a challenging environment. We’re delivering on our near-term objectives of laying the framework for continued long-term execution. This is a testament to Lam’s leadership team and our dedicated employees.

Operator that concludes my prepared remarks. Tim and I would now like to open up the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And we’ll take our first question today from John Pitzer with Credit Suisse.

John William PitzerCredit Suisse — Analyst

Good afternoon, Tim, Doug. Thanks for let me ask the questions and Congratulations on the great results. Tim I just want to go back to your WFE target guide for this year of high $60s million to $70 million. Now if you harken back to the Analyst Day almost a year ago your three to four year target out was sort of a range of $60 million to $70 million. And so I’m curious how should we think about how quickly we’ve gotten here? Do we worry about cyclical overheating? And in a similar vein as you think about this year being perhaps a little bit more first half-weighted is that really a commentary on normal seasonality? You want to add capacity in the first half for demand in the second half? Or as you look at the bottoms-up are you worried about any areas that are kind of perhaps cyclically heating up a little bit too much?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Well a lot of questions in there John. But maybe yes there was a comment in my script even that was that said in many cases the outlook we gave at Investor Day that was formulated before we really knew about COVID-19 before we saw all of these tremendous work-from-home drivers a lot of the things that just really have kind of changed maybe the way semiconductors have and the role semiconductors have played kind of in the world in the last 12 months. And so we gave our best view when we gave it. And at that time we thought a range of $60 billion to $70 billion seemed pretty reasonable given what we thought about demand. Clearly some segments of the market have been growing a lot faster as we just mentioned from those demand trends. When you look at it there is an urgency to get tooling to meet demand. And that’s not just that’s not our customers.

That’s also us as we look Doug talked about investment in our Ohio facility to build critical spare parts as factories are running at very high levels of utilization. So we’re investing. Our customers are investing. I think the outlook is yes it’s difficult to say. We’re telling you right now it looks like it’s first half somewhat first half-weighted. But I also talked about long-term demand drivers that we think fundamentally continue to become growth drivers for this industry in the long term. And we’ve just seen growth in I gave you a couple of examples 5G gaming consoles. Everybody has read about the shortages in automotive image sensors. There’s just such a role that semiconductors play today. I don’t think there’s any segment we would point to that we feel is overheating relative to the long-term trends we’ve talked about. Just one example because I know we’ll get the question at some point on NAND. We talked about the recovery in NAND. But if you look at the spending on NAND over the last three years and we average that out it’s actually very close to the average annual spending that we’ve outlined for a couple of years at the Flash Memory Summit which says that you need roughly $70 billion over a five year period to hit the high 30s demand in bit growth rate. And so we feel reasonably comfortable with the demand profiles across all the segments right now. And there’ll be changes quarter-to-quarter and such. But long term we think they’re in line with the demand we’re seeing.

John William PitzerCredit Suisse — Analyst

Very helpful. Thank you.y.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks, John.

Operator

Next we’ll hear from Krish Sankar with Cowen and Company.

Krish SankarCowen and Company — Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking my question. Just to follow-up on the WFE commentary. Is there a way to quantify it how much is it front half versus back half? And if there’s any upside to back half whether it’s going to really come from memory domestic China anything? And then I have a quick follow-up.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. It’s well we haven’t quantified it and I don’t think we’re going to do so right now. Doug is shaking his head no. Not going to right now. But I think that to your point and Doug kind of mentioned it’s like this is our view now. You can always feel the demand and the urgency for the next couple of quarters is much much stronger than the quarters further out. So I think to your question which is where might we see changes later in the year I think you have to look at some of the demand drivers. And again there’s a broadening of demand across it’s not just driven by leading-edge. In fact we were looking at the amount of foundry spending for instance that’s coming from 28-nanometer-and-above. It’s a very high level these days. You see that in strength that gets reported into our CSBG business the Reliant business.

I think you can continue to see strength there. It’s how semiconductor is being incorporated into everything. The content in cars and such is just increasing at quite a rapid rate. And those tend to drive kind of that off-leading-edge business at a very rapid pace. Where that gets manufactured? I mean there is a fair bit of investment in China for instance that is at those trailing edge nodes. And I think that’s why we have seen strength in China and why we actually believe that China especially at those trailing edge nodes continues to be an area of strength as they satisfy a lot of that domestic demand for those kinds of applications like 5G and cars and other things. So I guess you could say there might be added strength in those broader demand drivers that could surprise us later in the year.

Krish SankarCowen and Company — Analyst

Got it. That’s super-helpful Tim. Just a quick follow-up. Your WFE assumption for this year what are you modeling for domestic channel? You’re saying it’s $10 billion last year. I’m just kind of curious where it’s shaping out for this year?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

I don’t think we’re ready to give like an exact number. But what we’ve said is it’s $10 billion-plus this year and we expect growth this year. I don’t know if Doug wants to add anything to that.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

It’s probably in the same range Krish plus/minus a little bit is kind of how we’re thinking about it.

Krish SankarCowen and Company — Analyst

Okay. Thanks Doug.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks, Krish.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes.

Operator

Next we’ll hear from Timothy Arcuri with UBS.

Timothy Michael ArcuriUBS Investment Bank — Analyst

I guess Doug I wanted to ask the prior question maybe a little bit differently. You said WFE this year it’s probably $58.5 billion I’m sorry not this year last year probably about $58.5 billion. So your share grew about 100 basis points up to like 13.6%. So if I assume that the service business maybe you could help tell me if this is right but it seems like service is going to be maybe 1225 or 1250 in March. So if you use that same share number you get like an $18.5 billion $18.3 billion $18.5 billion worth of WFE in Q1. So that’s almost $74 billion annualized. So I sort of look at the full year number of you’re guiding high $60s billion to $70 billion. So that would sort of imply that the back half of the year has to be at least for the industry has to be down pretty substantially off of where the first half of the year is. Or at least off of where Q1 is running. So I’m just kind of wondering if you can comment on that and sort of like double-click on that. And then I have a follow-up.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes see I’m not going to unpeel the whole number. So we do and I can’t go through all the numbers as I sit here that you just spit out. I’m sure you’re doing the right math or close. As we look into the year it does look like a first half-weighted year. Things move around. Things change. I think probably NAND is first half-weighted. I think foundry/logic probably a little bit also. And I think DRAM probably through the years is fairly steady. Things move around things change. We always have pretty good visibility at this point into the first half and the second half is far enough away that it can move around. So that’s why we kind of try to put some ranges. You guys will do the math to kind of think it through. I don’t know if I’m helping here but that’s generally what I’m seeing and how I’m thinking about.

Timothy Michael ArcuriUBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Okay. Cool. And then I guess my second question is on NAND. So it looks like capex is going to run above EBITDA this year for the industry. I mean you’re going to the industry probably does $19 billion in NAND. I don’t know if you’d agree with that $19 billion WFE this year. So that’s pretty substantially above the $14 billion run rate that you get when you divide your $70 billion by $5 billion. So I guess when you take those two factors and you look at capex being above EBITDA usually that’s not all that sustainable. So I guess what’s the tone of your customers? Do you does that concern you at all? Just sort of curious on that.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Tim when you look at this it will go up it will go down. Nothing goes up every quarter. It ebbs and it flows. And if you go back to 2019 it was pretty low. We go through ’20 it went up a little bit. 2021 flat to up a little bit? Maybe yes probably. And then it will course-correct based on whatever demand looks like. I mean when we step back to and the reason Tim and I both talked about these long-term demand drivers is that the important thing to think about over the next several years for the industry. It won’t go up every quarter. It never does. You know that better than I do or as well as I do. And timing of fab investment when things come in it will go up it will go down. That is what always happens and is what will happen in 2021 most likely.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. And I think if I were just to add Tim I mean it’s the absolute spending in any given year is somewhat out of our control. But I mean what we do control is how we continue to expand share of every dollar of WFE spend. And that’s why I talked about how we’ve leveraged the learning we’re getting from being the company that runs the vast majority of the critical applications in NAND to identify new opportunities and new applications and grow into those. So at the next node our share of WFE goes higher. And yes I talked about Striker FE the ALD tool for gapfill brand new application for us competes in the space where we didn’t compete before. And as node transitions occur into the future means that our share of WFE increases. It’s also important to remember that our share of every dollar of WFE spent on node transitions actually is the highest. And that’s simply because of the role that etch and deposition play in those transitions.

So if you end up in a year let’s say and I’m not characterizing any given year in this way but if you end up in a year where you do have lots of wafer starts people become concerned that that might be just bit of overheating with new capacity. But actually we look at it as adding to what we would consider to be kind of our 3D annuity the 3D NAND annuity which says the installed base is larger which means that the next transition Lam will get an even greater share of the spending that is required to move that entire 3D NAND installed base forward to the next node. So as Doug said any given year something happens. But in the long-term trend we think Lam’s opportunity continues to grow with 3D NAND.

Timothy Michael ArcuriUBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Great. Thanks.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Thanks, Tim.

Operator

We’ll now hear from B.J. C.J Muse with Evercore.

Christopher James MuseEvercore ISI Institutional — Analyst

Yeah. Hi. Thanks for taking the question. Question three on CSBG business. Is your commentary on the first half-weighted year reflective for that business as well? And as part of that if I hold the business just flat at Q4 level that business could run about 68% in calendar 2021. So how should we think about the growth rate this year? And then I have a quick follow-up.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes. C.J. my commentary on first half second half was very much targeted at WFE not necessarily installed base. Now on the installed base won’t necessarily grow every single quarter will grow every single year like we’ve been saying. We feel really good about where we’re at though. I mean it’s we’re record after record. And Tim shared the chamber count with you. It’s up kind of like it’s been up over the last several years. So the tailwind there is really very good.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. And I guess I’d just add at our Investor Day we talked about the goal we had to expand the number of products and services available for the installed base as a way of increasing revenue per chamber. And I think you’ve seen our progress in that area in this past year. And we’d expect that to continue to increase going forward as we focus on equipment intelligence and remote services and a lot of database productivity enhancers.

Christopher James MuseEvercore ISI Institutional — Analyst

That’s great. And as a quick follow-up on your last call you talked about how given the performance of manufacturing in Fremont you couldn’t ship to one large logic player in China. Curious if you’ve been able to get a license. And as part of that are you including the spend there in your 2021 domestic China outlook?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

So where we’re at right now C.J. is we’re still in the application process for the license haven’t heard back. When we look at China that’s plus or minus how we described flat to up. There’s a range around it. But at this point we haven’t heard back on the license we have applied and we’re waiting.

Christopher James MuseEvercore ISI Institutional — Analyst

Thanks.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yeah. Thanks, CJ.

Operator

Next we’ll hear from Harlan Sur with JPMorgan.

Harlan SurJPMorgan Chase — Analyst

Congratulations on the solid results and execution. For all of the leading-edge growth trends that you highlighted in your prepared remarks Tim there’s a corresponding significant attach rate of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors to these applications. Additionally some of your customers are moving to 12-inch analog manufacturing. And then we know that there’s pretty significant tightness in foundry capacity for lagging edge 28- and 40-nanometer CMOS. So approximately and obviously I think you mentioned this is driving some of the strength in your business. Approximately what percent of your overall business is lagging-edge technology nodes? And do you see this expanding as the year unfolds?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. We’re I mean we don’t break out exactly what percentage of our business is in that segment. But I did say we do see that area continuing to grow again. And it’s that’s like what we would almost consider to be the strongest secular growing part of our market because it’s being driven by almost every aspect of the economy in terms of the types of products that semiconductor is going into that are manufactured at those trailing-edge nodes. And so we just we’ve seen I don’t maybe I think it’s something like I could get it wrong. It’s eight or nine quarters I think in a row that we’ve now had reported record revenues in that trailing-edge space. So one we feel like we know how to compete and address that market. And we think that it’s going to be just one that just continues to grow maybe not quarter over quarter over quarter but records every quarter. But certainly year to year to year it will continue to be an area of strength for us.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

And Harlan I’ll just remind you what we said back at the Investor Day in March and still believe that this segment of WFE will outgrow the rest of the market by I don’t know 2x maybe 3x although the leading-edge stuff has ticked up since then. But it’s still a very good growth area for us.

Harlan SurJPMorgan Chase — Analyst

Yes. And then to kind of follow-up on C.J.’s question in calendar year ’20 as you mentioned services grew 22%. That’s not only double your installed base growth CAGR over the past few years but it’s double the trend line target of around 10% as it relates to your 2023 2024 financial model. And if you just look at the continued complexity on these next-generation leading-edge tools the strong demand for lagging-edge nodes it appears that the service business is going to continue to grow faster than this 10% growth target that you guys have put out there upgrades advanced services Reliant refurbished tools. So would you broadly agree with that? Or are there some offsets that we should be thinking about that could dampen the year-over-year services trajectory back to that kind of normalized kind of 10% to 12% level?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. I don’t think we’re ready to up our long-term objective just yet. But I think you’re pointing out some of the things that are doing quite well in that part of the business around advanced services. And we talked about a 6x increase in remote support engagements. I think if we look one we put out that model at Investor Day. As I mentioned as COVID as the COVID environment kind of evolved some of the advanced services the database services the pull for the idea of like less people-related maintenance using data and remote capabilities clearly caught a lot more traction in the second half of the year. We need to see how much of that sticks as we kind of come out of this environment. But we believe that those things are those capabilities are now trying and demonstrating their value and a lot of that will stay. Those will be strong drivers. The other thing that happened in 2020 is there probably were some instances of spares being ordered a bit ahead of normal trend as everybody including LAM you see in some of our inventory numbers tried to hedge against disruptions due to COVID-19. And so you might see some moderation if you’re looking for offsets in that space. So we feel as Doug said very comfortable about hitting the objective we put out at the Investor Day. But we’re not ready to set a new growth target for that business until we see a little bit more of the trend this year.

Harlan SurJPMorgan Chase — Analyst

That’s great. Thank you.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks, Harlan

Operator

We’ll move on to Vivek Arya with Bank of America.

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. For the first one I’m curious what do you think is the right way to gauge the utilization of your NAND shipments last year? Is there some engagement with those customers on the CSBG side that gives you insight into what type installed base utilization is? Because I imagine the NAND number at least to us was somewhat of an upside surprise and I just wanted to understand what’s driving that.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Well I guess if I understand the question about you’re kind of asking how much the tools that we’ve shipped are being utilized in our customers’ fabs and that’s not something I can really comment on. Obviously through our engagement with customers we have good insight into that but it’s not something we can really talk about. If I misunderstood the question maybe…

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Or maybe if Tim what do you think is a supply demand balance for NAND right now among your customers?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Well I think we I think if you consider that we talked about further strength in the NAND market into 2021 I would say that there is a sense that more equipment is needed to bring on additional capabilities in NAND at this point in time for sure.

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Got it. And as a quick follow-up Doug I think you alluded to some cost headwinds from airfreight. Some of your semiconductor peers I think have managed to kind of pass on increasing costs in other areas foundries and wafers and substrates and so forth. Do you think this is the kind of cost you could pass on? I’m trying to think how do you go from your operating margins right now to the 32% to 34% kind of range you had outlined at your Analyst Day at similar level of annualized sales?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes Vivek. I mean we’re always trying to get the best pricing that we can get. It’s hard at times though to kind of pass stuff like this through. We’re doing our best. And it is a bit of a headwind. So I guess we’re not able to push it through at this point. I do think this part of things will mitigate at some point as the world gets back to normal and freight lanes get back to normal. Things are just constrained right now. We fly things in and out of our factory a lot. Oftentimes at least we used to on the belly of a commercial aircraft carrier at times and they’re just not flying at the volume that they used to be. I do think that could stack at some point once we get COVID under control in the world.

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Any way to quantify the headwind Doug? Is it like 100 basis points to gross margin 50 basis points? Any…

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes Vivek I haven’t given a hard number but I would tell you it’s noticeable. It’s meaningful. It’s a meaningful headwind or I wouldn’t be talking about it. And we’re doing our best to manage it and I do believe it will get better over time. But I haven’t quantified it.

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Understood. Thank you.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Thanks Vivek.

Operator

Next we’ll hear from Joe Moore with Morgan Stanley.

Joseph Lawrence MooreMorgan Stanley Research — Analyst

You talked about the drivers of the higher WFE in calendar 2021. You talked about migration to higher layer counts in NAND as well as DRAM and foundry. I guess in the NAND side does that mean you think NAND spending is higher for the year? Or are you not going to go that far? And then for DRAM it seems like the economics are improving. Do you think that’s were people spending sort of independent of that just thinking maybe you get a technology migration? Or have you seen sort of stronger spending because the market has been stabilizing and improving?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes Joe I’ll start and then I’ll let Tim add on as well. As we look into 2021 right now pretty much we see every segment of our business up right? It’s up in foundry/logic it’s up in NAND it’s up in DRAM to different degrees. And like I kind of alluded to earlier things can change but that’s our outlook right now. And again we see these longer-term demand drivers as a large part of what’s going on. I don’t know Tim if you want to add anything.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

No I think you pretty much got it. I mean I think if you you started the question about NAND. I mean again it’s again this layer transition is a way for customers to reduce their cost and but those transitions are complex from an etch and dep perspective so creating a lot of demand for our tools to help enable those transitions.

Joseph Lawrence MooreMorgan Stanley Research — Analyst

And to the extent that a lot of the NAND spending is on layer count migration rather than adding incremental wafers I mean does that wouldn’t Lam normally outgrow the WFE in that kind of environment assuming there isn’t like a lot of capacity being added in the end?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes Joe. And the conversion as Tim alluded to earlier when you’re just doing the layer count conversion that’s a sweet spot for us in terms of the percent of spend. So the answer is yes with the caveat that everybody’s installed base is a little bit different. There’s always a handful of new wafers coming in. You’ve got to kind of peel the onion back to the next layer and look at what’s going on in any one period. But I would agree with your comment that in a layer count conversion that’s a good spot for us.

Joseph Lawrence MooreMorgan Stanley Research — Analyst

Great. Thank you very much.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Thanks, Joe.

Operator

Toshiya Hari with Goldman Sachs has the next question.

Toshiya HariGoldman Sachs Group — Analyst

Congrats on the strong results. I had two as well. My first one is somewhat related to Joe’s question. Wanted to get your thoughts on your ability to outperform WFE in 2021 Tim. Given sort of the application wins that you have in the bag and given sort of the device-type mix that you guys are assuming internally would it be fair to assume kind of a similar magnitude of outperformance in your systems business in 2021 vis-a-vis 2020? Or do you think 2020 was a little bit unique given how strong NAND was in the year.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

That’s a lot of information you’re asking for. As we look I mean Doug just mentioned I mean clearly we see strength across all parts of the business. I mean NAND expansion is clearly good for us. We have as I mentioned in my comments more than 50% share in DRAM etch. We’re expanding our deposition. So DRAM is good. Foundry/logic is an area where obviously from an exposure perspective Lam has it’s been less in the past but we’ve talked about our improvements there. And so I think even there as the nodes move forward some of these new products we’re talking about whether it’s dry resist that might not be a 2021 story maybe but more of a ’22 and beyond story.

But we’re working hard to increase our SAM as a percent of WFE. And so I guess what I’d just say is in terms of outperformance you’ve got to go back to what we said at Investor Day which is the way our path to outperformance is to expand our SAM. And coming from where we are in the high 30s we said we’re going to get to 40% SAM as a percent of WFE. That’s increasing our opportunity. And then we do think with new products like the Vantex and Sense.i and other products that are kind of in the pipeline to come later this year those will be market share drivers for us. And so combination of SAM expansion and market share gains ultimately lead to continued outperformance of the market.

Toshiya HariGoldman Sachs Group — Analyst

Yes. That’s helpful. And then Tim as my follow-up you just mentioned Vantex pretty fascinating technology. Wondering if you could kind of give us some color on areas or points of differentiation vis-a-vis your nearest competitor in Asia? And if you can remind us what your market share aspirations are in dielectric etch over the next couple of years that would be super-helpful. Just given how relatively speaking you’ve been stronger in conductor etch so I think the opportunity set is bigger in dielectric.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Yes. Okay. Great. Well just a couple of things. I mean one the Vantex story is really like two parts. One is it is the first module on the new Sense.i platform. So again when you’re thinking about Sense.i you’re thinking about tremendous amounts of data collection and using that not only to improve the productivity of the platform and the maintenance and such but also process control. And as you look at now in that dielectric high aspect ratio etch which is where Vantex is targeted those etches are becoming incredibly difficult both in NAND and DRAM where that product is really targeted. We’ve leveraged the learning from all of those wafers I talked about. We’ve been running relative to the competition in 3D NAND to really understand what it takes to build the world-class high aspect ratio etch and that’s what we think we’ve delivered to the market. We do really well in dielectric etch quite honestly in both DRAM and NAND already. But we’re not going to we haven’t quantified I believe our dielectric etch ambition. But clearly it’s higher in years to come. And we think Vantex on Sense.i is the platform to do that.

Toshiya HariGoldman Sachs Group — Analyst

Got it. Thank you so much.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks, Toshiya.

Operator

We’ll now hear from Blayne Curtis with Barclays.

Blayne Peter CurtisBarclays Bank PLC — Analyst

Hey, guys. Thanks very much. I just wanted to go back the last quarter you talked about obviously you want to guide WFE so you gave us some guideposts. And obviously DRAM was the strongest. Now fast forward we’ve all seen big foundry capex numbers but your NAND came in strong as well. Can you talk us through over the last three months what kind of improved for you? I know you don’t want to spell some purchases for the year but just trying to still get a better feel as to what you’re expecting between those two segments.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

I don’t know Blayne. Obviously one large foundry customer upsized their capex. I think everybody understands what happened there. I don’t think any of us saw the totality of that coming. So clearly that was a bit of the upside. Maybe that would be the only thing I would specifically point to.

Blayne Peter CurtisBarclays Bank PLC — Analyst

Got you. And then just back on gross margin obviously you have the higher freight cost. You’re guiding it down a bit revenue up. Can you just kind of walk us through the March guide and then just opportunities for leverage either on gross margin or even on opex as you look through the rest of the year?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes Blayne thanks for the question. I think you know and everybody knows this isn’t really a huge fixed cost business. So when revenue goes up it matters but it’s not what matters as much as in like our customers’ business. Product mix matters customer mix matters. Customer concentration moves gross margin around. That’s happening probably a little bit in the March quarter a little bit of a headwind. If I think about the longer-term getting to that financial model that we put out for ’23 two things I would point you to on the gross margin and operating income for that matter. One is this freight headwind that we’re dealing with. Second I referred to ramping the factory in Malaysia. That’s going to be a somewhat more efficient a little bit bigger factory a little bit more cost-efficient factories. So there’s some upside that we’re going to see in gross margin there. And that’s really from where we are today to where we’re trying to get to or where we’re going to get to what gets you there.

Blayne Peter CurtisBarclays Bank PLC — Analyst

Got you. Thank you.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thanks, Blayne.

Operator

Our next question will come from Atif Malik with Citi.

Atif MalikCitigroup Inc. — Analyst

Thanks for taking my questions. Tim you guys have seen strong growth in 3D devices particularly in NAND area and are announcing the new technology for high aspect ratio. My question is on the logic side. As the logic devices are now moving in three dimensions horizontal nanosheet the 3-nanometer Korean foundry this year how does that impact the deposition and etch opportunity? And should we be looking at that as a major inflection?

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

I would hope you would be. We’ve been talking about really at some point along the road maps every device ultimately is inflecting to 3D simply because that’s how you get continued scaling. And so I talked about our KIYO GX tool. One of the you start seeing new types of technologies come in in the etch and also deposition space. I mentioned that tool with its atomic layer etch capabilities those tools are well suited to the types of 3D devices you’re going to see in nanosheet or nanowire architectures. There will also be other tools which we haven’t really talked about so publicly that they are in the hands of our customers around selective etch that will become much more prevalent within 3D logic/foundry devices and then a whole of new deposition films that also help. I mentioned some of the RC and such. So yes I think it’s an area where we can continue to expand our SAM by catching kind of those 3D inflections in logic and foundry. And our R&D that Doug talked about is really targeted a lot toward growing our opportunity in that space.

Atif MalikCitigroup Inc. — Analyst

Great. And Doug you have heard about supply constraints in chips and printed circuit boards. Is the availability of a chip impacting your capability to your customers?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes. In any supply chain as complex as ours is with as many suppliers as we have there’s always something that you’re working your way through. And certainly there’s a handful of those things today given volume is inflecting up. But we’re managing through it pretty well.

Atif MalikCitigroup Inc. — Analyst

Thank you.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yeah, thank you.

Tina CorreiaCorporate Vice President-Investor Relations & Corporate Finance

Operator, we have time for one more question, please.

Operator

Certainly. Our final question will come from Joe Quatrochi with Wells Fargo.

Joseph Michael QuatrochiWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

On your expectations for domestic China being flat to up how are you thinking about the efficiency of spending this year as the customers continue to ramp up their technology curves?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

In China specifically Joe is that your question?

Joseph Michael QuatrochiWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Yes for your domestic China customers. I think in the past you talked about there’s some level of inefficient spend just given that they’re still kind of learning.

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Yes. Our domestic China customer base is very broad. It’s much broader I think perhaps than all of you realize. And you’ve got people at all kinds of different points along ramping technologies. Some are have been doing it for a really long time. Some are brand new to certain technologies. When a customer is new to a technology it takes a little while to get to an efficient ramp point. So it’s a broad set of customers that are at different points I think is what I would describe again depending on how long they’ve been doing what they’re doing.

Joseph Michael QuatrochiWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Okay. Fair enough. And then quickly on just the CSBG side. How are you thinking about the improvement of memory fab productivity last year contributing to the growth? And then how do we think about that this year? Because I assume that the spare costs business would be more of a modest contributor to growth for that business this year?

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

Let me think about that question. And I don’t know Tim if you have anything you want to add. I mean consumption of spares will ebb and flow across every one of our end markets with utilization. When the utilization is high spare part consumption is somewhat higher. It’s just to make sure how it’s a consumable part obviously. So you just go along with volume. I don’t know if I’m answering your question. But that’s true in the memory fabs that’s true in foundry and logic as well. As Tim suggested maybe there was a little bit of buy ahead maybe a little bit but I don’t think that was huge. I don’t know if…

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

No. And I don’t think that it was something that would be specific to memory. But in general a couple of comments we’ve made about spare parts maybe just to comment is we have always been focused on the critical applications because critical applications you have to keep those chambers in very pristine condition in order to be able to deliver all the way for resolve to customer needs. They tend to be bigger drivers of spare parts. And so I think as each of these technology nodes gets more complex spare parts and the capability of those spares continues to grow.

That’s good for our business. But the flip side of that of course is that’s customers’ cost. And so that’s why we are continuously looking for things like the new Sense.i platform to help our customer reduce maintenance cost and running cost of the systems. I mentioned Sense.i and Vantex the first adopters and the first ones to ramp that production are going to be in the memory space and that’s simply because it delivers technology as high productivity. And that’s really the key. How do you find that balance of getting the results on the wafer without consuming too many spare parts and without consuming too much of the tool equipment time. And I think Lam has become very good at that. And I think that again let me point to the volume of learning we have in high-volume production cross-demand and DRAM. Cost-sensitive applications I think we may be the best at that.

Joseph Michael QuatrochiWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Thank you.

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Thank you, Jeff.

Operator

That will conclude today’s question-and-answer session. I will now turn the call over to Ms. Correia for any additional or closing remarks.

Tina CorreiaCorporate Vice President-Investor Relations & Corporate Finance

We just wanted to thank everyone for joining today and we will talk to you all again soon. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 63 minutes

Call participants:

Tina CorreiaCorporate Vice President-Investor Relations & Corporate Finance

Timothy M. ArcherPresident, Chief Executive Officer & Director

Douglas R. BettingerExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer & Chief Accounting Officer

John William PitzerCredit Suisse — Analyst

Krish SankarCowen and Company — Analyst

Timothy Michael ArcuriUBS Investment Bank — Analyst

Christopher James MuseEvercore ISI Institutional — Analyst

Harlan SurJPMorgan Chase — Analyst

Vivek AryaBofA Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Joseph Lawrence MooreMorgan Stanley Research — Analyst

Toshiya HariGoldman Sachs Group — Analyst

Blayne Peter CurtisBarclays Bank PLC — Analyst

Atif MalikCitigroup Inc. — Analyst

Joseph Michael QuatrochiWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

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