SAN FRANCISCO—Amid a slumping memory chip market, Micron Technology Inc. Thursday (Sept. 27) reported quarterly sales that fell short of analysts' expectations and posted a net loss of more than $1 billion for its fiscal year. But company executives expressed optimism about Micron's prospects for the next year amid improvement in NAND flash pricing.
"While we have experienced volatile market conditions over the last 12 months, we are optimistic that we can see improvement in the market looking out over the next 12 months," said Mark Adams, Micron's president, in a conference call following Micron's fiscal fourth quarter report. "While DRAM prices have indeed weakened, we have seen a nice recovery in NAND ASPs and our overall NAND demand while we benefited from slower industry supply."
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Adams said NAND prices started to recover over the summer, after Japan's Toshiba Corp. cut its NAND production 30 percent amid oversupply and sagging average selling prices (ASPs). Adams said NAND pricing has continued to improve since Aug. 30, when Micron's fiscal fourth quarter closed.
DRAM, however, is another matter. DRAM pricing deteriorated throughout the fiscal fourth quarter and remains soft, said Mark Durcan, Micron's CEO. He said the upcoming launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and a high proliferation of DRAM in mobile devices should "help get the ball rolling," but declined to predict the timing of a recovery.
NAND flash accounted for about 44 percent of Micron's fiscal 2012 sales, with 39 percent made up of DRAM and 12 percent NOR flash.
"DRAM market prices were generally stable coming into the quarter, although things began to weaken in July," Adams said. "And we're seeing that trend continue as we head into fiscal year 2013."
Micron's DRAM production capacity is set to increase with the acquisition of Elpida Memory Inc., which is expected to close in the first half of 2013.