Micron Earnings Can’t Match High Expectations

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Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) reported its third-quarter earnings after markets closed Monday night. The DRAM and chip maker’s adjusted earnings per share (EPS) came to $0.79 per share on revenue of $3.98 billion. In the same period a year ago Micron posted EPS of $0.04 on revenues of $2.32 billion. Thomson Reuters was calling for earnings of $0.70 per share on $3.89 billion in revenue.

On a sequential basis, revenue slipped 3%. On a year-over-year basis this is a 72% gain. Adjusted earnings of $913 million equaled a sequential decline from $989 million ($0.85 per share. The company’s stock price is up 300% in the past 18 months today’s largely due to Micron’s acquisition of Japan’s Elpida Memory out of bankruptcy, a deal that closed at the end of the company’s second quarter last year and that makes the sequential comparison the only meaningful one. By that measure today’s results are no home run.

Cash flow from operations rose from $1.39 billion in the second quarter to $1.46 billion, while capital spending rose from $565 million to $575 million sequentially. Micron ended the quarter with cash and marketable investments of $4.81 billion.

The company did not offer guidance, but the consensus estimates for the fourth quarter call for EPS of $0.77 on revenues of $4.06 billion. For the fiscal year ending in August the consensus estimates call for EPS of $3.10 on revenues of $16.08 billion.

Analysts have been raising ratings on Micron to or reiterating them at Buy with price targets from $38 to $50 a share. A recent upgrade from Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) on its own outlook for the coming quarter has added to expectations for increased shipments of DRAM for the new PCs the Intel is forecasting. We’ll know more following today’s conference call.

Micron shares closed down 1.85% at $31.26 today, and are trading down about 0.8% in Monday’s after-hours session at $30.91. Micron’s 52-week trading range is $12.31 to $32.43. The consensus price target on the stock is around $35.30 before today’s results were announced.

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