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Value

The solar industry continues to be hot. Amtech Systems Inc. (ASYS - Snapshot Report) recently cashed in with record revenue and orders in the fiscal first quarter. This Zacks #1 Rank is an attractive value stock, with a forward P/E of just 11.2.

Amtech Systems manufactures equipment used in fabricating solar cells and semiconductor devices. Its wafer handling, thermal processing and consumable products address the steps used in the fabrication of solar cells, semiconductors, MEMS and the polishing of newly sliced silicon wafers.

Solar Orders Soaring

On Mar 3, the company announced that its year to date fiscal 2011 solar orders had already surpassed all of fiscal 2010. Fiscal 2011 began on Oct 1, 2010 so the company is just 5 months into the fiscal year.

Solar orders have so far totaled a record $182 million, or $20 million more than all of fiscal 2010.

Expanding in China

On Feb 21, the Arizona-based Amtech announced it had completed acquiring 55% ownership of Kingstone Technology Hong Kong Limited, which owns 100% of Kingstone Semiconductor Company. Kingstone Semiconductor will expand the company's business in China as the Shanghai-based tech company develops ion implant solutions for the solar and semiconductor industries.

Amtech paid $5.5 million in cash and stock and $4 million in the form of a contingent promissory note for 55% ownership of the company.

The acquisition will give Amtech exclusive worldwide rights to sell and service any solar ion implant machine developed by Kingstone Semiconductor.

Reaffirmed Fiscal 2011 Guidance

On Feb 18, the company confirmed its earlier revenue guidance for the March quarter and the full-year.

In fiscal 2011, Amtech expects revenue to surpass $230 million, which would be a 92% increase from fiscal 2010.

The company said it continues to see an "active and healthy" order pipeline.

Keep in mind, however, that a substantial portion of Amtech's revenues are in euros. That means that if the euro continues to appreciate against the dollar, it could increase revenue more than expected (and vice versa- if the euro were to decline against the dollar.) Recently, however, the euro has been strong.

Record Revenue in the Fiscal Second Quarter

On Feb 8, the company reported its fiscal second quarter results and easily surprised on the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 41%. Earnings per share were 52 cents compared to the consensus of just 37 cents.

Revenue jumped 248% to a record $53.7 million from $15.5 million in the year ago period. The quarter was boosted by strong order momentum for the solar diffusion systems.

Total orders were also a record at $137 million with $127 million of that in the solar segment. That is a gain of 176% from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Zacks Consensus Estimates Rise

Given all the flurry of news in the last month from the company, including a big earnings beat, it's not surprising that the analysts have been raising estimates.

The fiscal 2011 Zacks Consensus Estimates has moved higher by 8 cents to $2.14 per share in the last month. That is earnings growth of 97.9% compared to the prior year.

Double digit earnings growth is expected to continue into fiscal 2012, as the Zacks Consensus has jumped to $2.53 from $2.31 in the prior 30 days. That is earnings growth of 18.3% compared to fiscal 2011.

Growth Plus Value = Powerful Combination

With double digit earnings growth and a P/E of just 11.2, Amtech is both a growth and a value stock with a PEG ratio of just 0.3.

The company also has an attractive price-to-book ratio of just 2.5, putting it within the value parameters of under 3.0.

2-Year Chart

Shares didn't really take off until the second half of 2010. They're up 172% over the last 52 weeks.

Check out the 2-year chart.

Tracey Ryniec is the Value Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. She is also the Editor in charge of the market-beating Zacks Value Trader service. You can follow her at twitter.com/traceyryniec.

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