Is the Western Digital Turnaround for Real This Time?

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Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) has been on the slide for the past couple of years, but Wednesday morning offered a shot of life for the company. This hard disk drive producer is coming off its recent acquisition of SanDisk and has been noting continued progress in the integration of its WD and HGST subsidiaries. What does this all mean? The company is expecting a significant jump in its bottom-line results, among other things.

As a result, Western Digital shares made a solid gain, and rival Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) saw a small uptick as well. Just a month ago Seagate reported overly positive earnings, propping up Western Digital in the process, and we also noted that these results could signal a rising tide in the space. Western Digital is now paying back the favor by boosting Seagate in this most recent update.

Looking at the stock over roughly the past two years, it has been on a steady decline since the beginning of 2015. Specifically the stock has dropped over 50%. But with this recent M&A and reorganization, Western Digital could very well be in the process of turning itself around — for real this time.

On the top line, Western Digital now expects its fiscal first-quarter revenue to be in the range of $4.45 billion to $4.55 billion, versus the previous forecast of $4.4 billion to $4.5 billion. The consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters predicts $4.45 billion in revenue. At the same time, gross margin was raised only slightly to 33% from 32% from the improved mix and pricing.

Operating expenses are expected to be approximately $905 million, versus the earlier forecast of $875 million, reflecting higher incentive compensation due to the stronger business performance.

Net interest expense is forecast to be lower than previously expected due to the recently completed repricing of the company’s U.S. Term Loan B debt.

Western Digital now expects first-quarter earnings per share (EPS) to be in the range of $1.00 to $1.05, compared to the earlier forecast range of $0.85 to $0.90. The consensus estimate for the quarter is $0.90 in EPS.

We can look forward to the company reporting its full results for the fiscal first quarter in late October.

Shares of Western Digital traded up more than 9% at $51.95, early on Wednesday. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $60.09 and a 52-week trading range of $34.99 to $86.39.

Seagate shares were up 3.8% at $35.77, with a consensus price target of $32.22 and a 52-week range of $18.42 to $50.91.