Micron Technology Inc. expects memory-chip demand to remain high even as the supply of other types of computer chips meets customer needs, the company said late Wednesday as its earnings and an outlook surpassed Wall Street expectations.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains and left many manufacturers, such as auto makers, that depend on semiconductors to finish their products high and dry. As those components become more available, those manufacturers will be filling backlog orders as well as new ones.
On a call with analysts, Micron Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra said that as semiconductor supply shortages subside, memory demand will still remain high.
“As that semiconductor shortage gets alleviated over time, that actually is going to create more demand for memory and storage because every end application today, you know, whether it’s analog IC related or memory, CPU cores related, all of them actually require memory and storage,” Mehrotra said.
The CEO expects that customers that need chips to make their products are “approaching their inventory considerations in a different manner compared to before.”
Micron specializes in DRAM and NAND memory chips. DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, is the type of memory commonly used in PCs and servers, while NAND chips are the flash memory chips used in smaller devices like smartphones and USB drives. Like most semiconductors, memory chips have been in great demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and prices have shot higher.
The company said it expects demand for DRAM to grow more than 20% for the year, with NAND growth in the mid-30% range.
Micron expects adjusted fourth-quarter net income of $2.20 to $2.40 a share on revenue of $8 billion to $8.4 billion. Analysts had forecast $2.18 a share on revenue of $7.88 billion.
For the fiscal third quarter, Micron reported net income of $1.74 billion, or $1.52 a share, compared with $803 million, or 71 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings, which exclude stock-based compensation expenses and other items, were $1.88 a share, compared with 82 cents a share in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $7.42 billion from $5.44 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast adjusted earnings of $1.72 a share on revenue of $7.23 billion. In late May, Micron said it expected revenue to come in “at or above” $7.3 billion, the high end of the guidance it provided at the end of March. where it forecast earnings of $1.55 to $1.69 a share.
Micron said DRAM sales made up 73% of revenue, or $5.42 billion, in the fiscal third quarter, up from $3.59 billion in the year-ago period, while NAND accounted for 24% of revenue, or $1.78 billion, up from last year’s $1.67 billion. Analysts on average had expected DRAM sales of $5.25 billion, and NAND sales of $1.86 billion, according to FactSet.
In a separate release, Micron said that it was selling its fabrication plant in Lehi, Utah, to Texas Instruments for $1.5 billion. The company paid $1.5 billion for Intel, 49% interest in the joint venture in early 2019, and announced its plans to sell the fab earlier this year.