Applied Materials CEO Michael Splinter cited strong demand in Asia and in the semiconductor business, offering an “optimistic” outlook on business conditions.
Splinter said the Santa Clara, California-based tech company has begun rehiring as demand in the semiconductor sector "has picked up quite a bit." He emphasized that the firm is "still quite cautious” and thus hiring will “go step by step to see how our customers continue to invest.”
Referring to solid sales of PCs, cell phones and flat-panel TVs and demand moving to next-generation technology, Splinter called the pickup across the industry “real” growth, rather than replenishing depleted inventory.
Splinter made the comments in an interview with CNBC's Becky Quick at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
He said Asia now accounts for more than 70 percent of the company’s business. For example, China is Applied Material’s biggest market for solar products, "double or triple” the next region.
The company also saw a “big shift” in sales after the Chinese government's stimulus package provided funds for its flat-panel TVs industry.
Closer to home, Splinter singled out two aspects of President Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night, emphasizing the need to create jobs and develop green technology.
While Splinter said issues such as the climate bill “can wait,” he expressed hopes that the energy bill will pass this June to move demand for clean energy and stimulate manufacturing.
“It’s really about manufacturing and getting big jobs going in this sector of the economy. The Chinese are getting ahead of us.”