Analysts Now View Micron More Like a Value Stock

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After a strong recovery from 2013 to mid-2014, investors have had to reconsider how to view Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU). In the past it was a major turnaround and growth story. Now investors and analysts have to look at it as a value stock. 24/7 Wall St. has seen multiple analyst reports that are still positive in their long-term ratings but come with tempered estimates or lowered price targets.

Analyst reports have been seen from Topeka Capital Markets, Needham, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo. Here is what the analysts had to say following the company’s earnings report.

Merrill Lynch retained a Buy rating with a price objective of $40. The firm also noted that the second-quarter results clearly confirm up-cycle momentum, despite the PC downturn and euro weakness. Merrill Lynch’s already bullish estimates for the fourth quarter and the 2016 fiscal year are almost unchanged.

Credit Suisse noted that despite earnings and revenue being in line for Micron’s fiscal second quarter, investors should be cautious going forward. Micron guided lower for the third quarter in May, with revenues down 6% quarter over quarter. The implied per-share earnings for the third quarter come to $0.61, compared to the firm’s previewed estimate of $0.66 and the street view of $0.80. As a result, Credit Suisse lowered its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 estimates to $3.10 and $3.95 from $3.46 and $4.70, respectively. The firm views the May quarter as a likely trough for a few reasons:

  • Micron’s relative DRAM bit growth is expected to accelerate relative to the industry in the second half of 2015.
  • The gap between PC builds and sell-thru appears to have bottom in February.
  • NAND margins are stabilizing on better product/customer mix after six quarters of declines.

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Wells Fargo made this call following Micron’s earnings:

Micron’s February quarter results showed a drop in gross margin, with Micron’s data suggesting to us that DRAM gross margin is likely to fall further in the May quarter. Micron’s revenue guidance for the May quarter was below consensus estimates prior to the release and Micron thinks its inventory could rise. As reported diluted GAAP EPS amounted to $0.78 per share in February, above our$0.71 estimate and above the consensus GAAP estimate of $0.66 prior to the call. However, the main drivers of upside to our EPS estimate were higher minority income and lower tax than we had modeled. Our FY2015 EPS estimate rises to$2.95 from a prior $2.89 due to February quarter reported EPS coming in above our estimate. We are cutting our May quarter EPS estimate to $0.64 from a prior $0.66. We are leaving our below-consensus FY2016 EPS estimate of $2.53 unchanged. We remain negative on Micron’s stock with an Underperform rating.

Overall, it looks like guidance was the straw that broke the camel’s back for analysts regarding their future outlook despite the strong quarter that Micron posted relative to street estimates.

Topeka Capital Market maintained a Hold rating and lowered its price target to $30 from $33.

Needham maintained a Strong Buy rating but lowered its price target to $50 from $60.

Other firms not mentioned in this report that were also at least somewhat cautionary include Morgan Stanley and MKM Partners.

Micron shares closed down 1.5% to $26.73 on Thursday, in a 52-week trading range of $21.02 to $36.59. The consensus analyst price target is $41.20.

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