(Adds analyst comment, details; updates shares)
Nov 16 (Reuters) - Applied Materials Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly results and gave a strong current-quarter forecast as the world's largest supplier of tools to make semiconductors enjoys strong demand in its chip and display businesses.
The company's shares were up about 1 percent in trading after the bell on Thursday, reversing course from a drop of nearly 2 percent immediately after the results were released.
Applied Materials has now topped analysts estimates in each quarter of the latest fiscal year, helping its shares surge about 79 percent this year, making them the fourth best performer on the Philadelphia semiconductor index.
Applied Materials, whose results are seen as a barometer for the semiconductor industry, has been benefiting from higher demand for 3D NAND memory chips from smartphone makers and the shift to organic light-emitting diode technology for displays.
Worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones are expected to exceed 2.35 billion units in 2018, an increase of 2.0 percent from 2017, according to a report published by research firm Gartner in October. (http://gtnr.it/2AUZwTp)
While Applied Materials has benefited from surging sales of smartphones, it is also set to cash in on the rise of new technologies such as AI, big data, machine learning, augmented reality and autonomous driving.
"The semiconductor business has clear tailwinds around next generation areas such as AI and other parts of the tech food chain," Daniel Ives, analyst at GBH Insights said.
The Santa Clara, California-based company forecast current-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 94 cents to $1.02 and net sales of $4.00 billion to $4.20 billion.
The forecasts were comfortably above analysts' average estimate of a profit of 91 cents and revenue of $3.96 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said its net income rose 61 percent to $982 million in the fourth quarter. Excluding items, it earned 93 cents per share, 2 cents above analysts' estimates.
Total net sales rose 20.4 percent to $3.97 billion. Analysts were expecting $3.94 billion.
Sales from its display business, which caters to television, PC and smartphone makers, rose nearly 50 percent to $677 million and handily beat analysts estimates of $452 million.
"There is huge demand for new display technology, while ... average screen sizes for both TVs and mobile devices are growing considerably," Chief Executive Gary Dickerson said on a post-earnings call.
Revenue from its semiconductor business, the company's largest, rose 14.3 percent to $2.43 billion, topping analysts' estimate of $2.13 billion. (Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)