December 19, 2017 / 9:28 PM / in 10 months

Micron's strong forecast eases concerns over chip boom peaking

(Reuters) - Micron Technology Inc’s (MU.O) better-than-expected current-quarter profit forecast on Tuesday allayed investor concerns that a boom in chip demand has peaked, sending the company’s shares up 6 percent in after-hours trading.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of U.S. memory chip maker MicronTechnology is pictured at their booth at an industrial fair in Frankfurt, Germany, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The company’s shares have nearly doubled this year as chipmakers ride a so-called memory chip “super-cycle”.

Users looking to store more and more data and apps in smartphones and businesses shifting to cloud have lifted demand and prices of both DRAM and NAND memory chips amid tight supply.

Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) content in smartphones is expected to increase 8.2 percent this year to an average of 2.6 GB per device, according to a latest research by DRAMeXchange.

However, there have been some worries that the boom, mainly in NAND chips, may have peaked, especially after a Morgan Stanley note in November.

Micron on Tuesday eased such concerns.

The chipmaker said for next year NAND industry supply bit growth was approaching 50 percent and the company’s bit growth was “somewhat above industry” for its fiscal 2018.

“Investors’ fear of ASP/bit declining is overblown considering costs continue to decline and demand increases,” said Stifel analyst Kevin Cassidy.

Micron, which got 67 percent of total revenue from DRAM chips in the latest quarter, said bit growth in the business would be “slightly below industry” for fiscal 2018.

Average selling price (ASP) of DRAM chips rose in upper 50 percent range in the first quarter from a year earlier, Micron said.

“End markets in memory are more diversified and given opportunity for differentiation, it’s not a commodity market anymore,” Cassidy said.

Boise, Idaho-based Micron said it expected an adjusted profit of $2.51 per share to $2.65 per share for the seasonally slow current quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting an adjusted profit of $2.03 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales surged 71.4 percent to $6.80 billion in the first quarter ended Nov. 30, beating the average analyst estimate of $6.43 billion.

Net income attributable to the chipmaker rose to $2.68 billion, or $2.19 per share, from $180 million, or 16 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.45 per share, easily topping analysts’ average estimate of $2.21.

The company’s shares were trading at $46 in extended trading, after closing up marginally at $43.98 in regular trading on Tuesday.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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