What Price SanDisk Might Really Get in a Buyout

SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) is finding some attention on Wednesday after some similar story broke in prior weeks on Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU). The difference here is that this might actually have a better shot of being true — and is even possible, particularly if the inclusion of Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC) is real.

Bloomberg reported late on Tuesday that Micron Technology and Western Digital were both in talks with SanDisk about a possible acquisition. 24/7 Wall St. would caution that this is according to “people who asked not to be identified.” That means that this is pure hearsay, until something breaks.

Where the issue could become interesting is that SanDisk operates flash-memory plants with Toshiba in Japan, which means that a deal could require an agreement or an approval process of Toshiba for it to actually happen.

So, what 24/7 Wall St. would like to explore is what SanDisk could truly be worth. That old 52-week high of $106.64 is probably not anywhere close to a realistic expectation. We would also remind readers that SanDisk successfully fought off an acquisition in years past. In 2008 it was Samsung that tried to buy SanDisk at $26.00 per share, which SanDisk said was inadequate and not in the best interests of its shareholders. That was during the financial panic.

The question still remains what SanDisk would fetch. The market simply does not want to pay a premium for earnings for memory makers tied to DRAM and to NAND and NOR flash.

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SanDisk closed at $61.77 on Tuesday, and shares were indicated up 11.4% around $68.79 in the premarket trading on Wednesday (with 518,000 premarket shares). Tuesday’s after-hours session saw some 1,817,415 shares trade through NASDAQ’s tracked after-hours trading session, with the stock up 11.7% at $69.00.

SanDisk’s consensus analyst price target is currently only $64.55. A hypothetical $65.00 share price values SanDisk at 17.5 times a blended 2015 to 2016 earnings per share estimate at the consensus.

The real question to ask is whether Micron or Western Digital would be more able to milk out the cost savings and synergies. This is what will drive an earnings estimate for 2017 or 2018 and beyond that these companies would be valuing the company for.

Micron would make more sense on a strategic view, particularly with its joint developments now happening with Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC). For Western Digital, this would give it a pop in its solid state drive (SSD) efforts.

It has been surprising that very little fresh research has been published on this report so far on Wednesday. It is likely that the analysts have all handily lowered their price targets and earnings estimates on SanDisk, Micron, Western Digital and other memory and storage makers enough that they already see SanDisk at or close to full valuation as a standalone business. Again, this will boil down to which would-be buyer could milk out the most in synergies.

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SanDisk shares were up 10.3% at $68.12, on about 7.5 million shares traded by late morning.

Western Digital shares were down 1.2% at $83.34, with a 52-week range of $67.87 to $114.69 and with a consensus analyst price target of $99.33.

Micron shares were last seen up 2.4% at $18.61, with its consensus price target of $22.52 and its 52-week range of $13.50 to $36.59.