Why SanDisk Unexpectedly Lowered Guidance

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SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) announced on Monday that the leader in flash memory is lowering its guidance for its fiscal fourth quarter. The stock was closing in on a 52-week high just over a month ago. It seems that SanDisk could not keep up this pace forever and as a result has pumped the brakes.

The company lowered its fourth-quarter revenue guidance to $1.73 billion from its previously forecast range of $1.80 billion to $1.85 billion. The lower revenue is expected, primarily due to weaker-than-expected sales of retail and iNAND products.

SanDisk also mentioned its gross margin in the press release, which appears to be another large factor in adjusting the guidance for total revenue. The gross margin for the fourth quarter is expected to come in at approximately 45%, which is also below the previously guided range of 47% to 49%.

As of Friday, shares of SanDisk were trading roughly 10% down from its summer highs, and undoubtedly this news will be a disappointment. The high at this time was $108.77. However, leading up to the 52-week high in July, stock in the company had more than doubled in 18 months.

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Following this updated guidance, the company noted that it will publish its fourth-quarter results on January 21, 2015. Thomson Reuters has a consensus estimate of $1.84 billion in revenue, and the latest estimate for earnings per share is $1.52.

SanDisk has, at least before this warning, a consensus analyst price target of $110.69, which implies an upside of 14% from Friday’s close. The highest analyst target price was $135.00, suggesting upside of 39.2%. Shares of SanDisk were indicated lower Monday morning by 7% to $90.26, in a 52-week trading range of $66.80 to $108.77.

The market was just not expecting SanDisk to lower its guidance.