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H. Bruce Campbell  

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  • Intel, Micron: My Thoughts On 3D X Point Memory [View article]
    Thanks Russ - straightforward and compelling as usual.

    But I suspect more layers are at work in the IMFT relationship, in part because I doubt either partner would have supported the long research effort in earnest had it been clear that the fruits of the work would ultimately harm them materially. So I suspect Intel and Micron agreed to something which keeps the relationship healthy and each firm whole.

    In Stephen Breezy's latest article at http://bit.ly/1M0XUrV, William Tidwell commented:

    "ARM licenses are doing pretty well these days - surely there would be a market for 3D XP there? Is it possible that Micron becomes an ARM licensee in order to sell an integrated on chip package?"

    I don't mean to suggest that I think that possibility might be part of a plan to keep IMFT healthy, but it's an interesting point which at least illustrates that 3D XPoint might spawn any number of heretofore unlikely pursuits.

    Most others seem to disagree, but I'm juiced by the possibility that 3D XPoint will ultimately replace 3D NAND, irrespective of IMFT's insistence that their 3D NAND road map remains fully intact. As you said "Two shrinks and 3D X point begins to crowd even 3D NAND." And while it's said to cost more than 3D NAND, there are a world of questions about that metric in my mind - is that fabrication cost or planned initial retail price? And if fabrication cost, is that now or after a couple of shrinks? And is it padded more that whatever padding might be in place for 3D NAND?

    To me fabrication cost would have to remain significantly more expensive to offset 3D XPoint's clearly superior performance in speed and endurance over 3D NAND. And though I don't have a tangible basis to judge, I doubt a sufficiently substantial fabrication cost difference exists. If any at all, particularly after a shrink or two.

    My sense is that 3D XPoint's early limited output will be dedicated to displacing DRAM as most describe since in that role Intel can reap superb margins on uniquely high performance SoC / memory / SCM modules as you describe. But as output ramps up (particularly after a shrink or two) both Intel and Micron could pursue the very roughly $65 storage market aggressively, sacrificing 3D NAND in the process.

    Based upon the metrics I've reviewed, I'd much rather have 3D XPoint based storage in all my personal cyber systems. If others feel differently, I'd sure like to hear why. If not, for about half a $65 B pie, maybe Micron will be perfectly happy with 3D XPoint irrespective of the fate of DRAM...

    Highly concentrated long Micron common and calls and Intel calls.
    Aug 3, 2015. 12:55 PM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: Not Selling Hot Dogs Anymore [View article]
    To correct an egregious oversight in my first comment here: Stunningly informative article Stephen - a dazzling display of refined exploratory insight! (Purple Swan too of course.) Thanks so much! And thanks Jordan and HenleyTheCat - very kind!

    And Cincinnatus, my sense is that there's very little space between our views. My original intent was to generally avoid certain specifics in the context of an effort to support an enthusiastic heart during a time of personal and professional adjustment. I agreed with your points, and for the most part do in your response to my first interminable comment. I suspect they're well understood and respected by Bruce B. as well, and that he's adjusting his views and style in response. I simply hope the process of adjustment is painless in part because his core enthusiasm is important to many of us here - he's a good information digger (far better than me, as are so many here).

    He's not alone in occasionally overreaching or responding to frustration by attaching blame when in fact no sin was committed, but I suspect self examination is occurring as we speak, and in the meantime my sense is that most here are independent minded and think for themselves, and thus filter out most overreach and other somewhat minor sins rather easily. Whatever the case, personally I still need the diggers here - they provide the core grist required to formulate better investing thesis.

    "Neither of those statements are realistic." Agreed. No corporation is our investing mother - generally they'll be transparent when they reasonably can, but coy when any of a variety of conditions demand it. Investors must accept that rather simple reality, then try to discover as many hidden truths as practical. In my view Intel and Micron are committing no sins in the context we're discussing.

    And I respect the frustration behind: "... people on SA seem to be claiming much more of Xpoint than either Intel or Micron did." And yes, whether on this cycle or next, the misplaced anger from less seasoned investors you characterized in your last paragraph will occur, sorely exacerbated by loose use of superlatives by those of us who should know better. I dislike having to endure such end point reactions too.

    But there's a flip side to that quicksand in our park - sometimes the opposite mistake is made - sometimes, in the spirit of disciplined conservative realism (whatever that means), we fail to adequately recognize unique opportunities and reasonably alert our peers. Agreed that's not Micron nor Intel's job. But when we believe in our hearts that change might be swift, we in these halls ultimately have a duty to convey such impressions transparently. Sans superlatives and with disclaimers of course. But still transparently.

    My personal sense thus far is that "Nor should one expect products sooner rather than later out of XPoint." might prove to be too conservative. Again agreed that Intel and Micron aren't claiming nearly as much from 3D XPoint as some of us. But I don't see any role transgressions there. Intel and Micron dare not state, at least openly, that superb success is coming. But, sans superlatives and with humility, those of us who believe in our hearts that the evidence suggests it might be so must convey such thoughts openly so they can be effectively debated.

    In particular "Intel and Micron are only hinting at products in 2016, and they're being cagey about it..." seems true and is important, but I interpret the matter differently. I suspect Intel, which isn't the least bit shy about extracting huge margins from customers who desperately need a serious performance edge only Intel can provide, will do just that with early 3D XPoint enhanced Data Center Group targeted systems (and other specialized performance critical niches). Early customers will pay very dearly, and Intel won't address wider markets with less extravagant margins with their limited quantity early production. Thus (in part) Intel's being coy. But that doesn't necessarily mean their bottom line won't be juiced.

    My sense is that there was a lag time in our collective recognition of Intel's Data Center Group's level of contribution to the firm's financial performance. And we still have a tendency to focus too much on the massive mobile market during times of technology transition.

    I suspect Intel and Micron will ramp 3D XPoint as quickly as they can, and that we'll see financial impact sooner than their public posturing suggests. But perhaps not in mobile near term. But when analysts perceive the juiced financial results in the Data Center Group, then extrapolate them to mobile, if Intel and Micron still have a substantial IP moat those analysts might begin to transmit more excitement and raise price targets, leading to the obvious shorter term effects on their stock prices and P/Es.

    Just my personal speculations of course. And a thousand other things could happen, some good and some not. Apple strikes me as a potential 3D XPoint buying wild card for example (but if so they might pay rather dearly too in an interesting role reversal).

    So perhaps we differ in our moderate term expectations in some measure. But otherwise my sense is that there's not much space between our thoughts.

    Cheers with respect!
    Aug 3, 2015. 02:39 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: Not Selling Hot Dogs Anymore [View article]
    BioLookX: Do we know that they're not?
    Aug 2, 2015. 04:35 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron: Not Selling Hot Dogs Anymore [View article]
    Valid points Cincinnatus. But on the whole Bruce Burnworth's investing logistics, as best I've perceived them, haven't been stubborn nor ill informed - he has critiqued himself transparently in these halls, and like many of us has erred on both the aggressive side and the conservative side. As best I recall he openly revealed selling Micron calls much too early after the Elpida acquisition for example.

    Those of us who embrace more of a swing for the fence philosophy know of course that we'll often miss-time matters or be outmaneuvered by difficult to predict events, sending our precious call money down the swirl - we all have numerous battle scars. But we soldier on, struggling mightily to try to find optimum levels of aggression and timing whenever significant new developments become visible.

    And this is certainly an interesting and challenging point in time. We can never know just when the pendulum has reached its zenith, but it can be argued that one clue is an investing community which begins to express skepticism that it'll ever reverse, or do so only slowly.

    And Bruce clarified that some important features in Windows 10 won't be available in aging IT hardware, which invites some interesting speculation. Buzz Aldrin wisely lamented that he was promised Mars, but instead got FaceBook. In my view FaceBook is about the most insipid human folly to ever spring from the most shallow enclaves of the human heart. But sadly we're awash in it, and it's easy to imagine that just one significant gesture control or similar 'enhancement' of FaceBook will infect many with 'New PC' fever, pouring enough of their money (or more likely their debt) into IT store cash registers around the globe to move earnings needles. (Mars can wait!) Such are our times, alas...

    Pendulums do reverse course, and sometimes substantial lubrication is added to their bearings by new technologies and fads. Bruce can ably speak for himself, but my sense is that his sense is that current conditions might be signaling the beginning of a significant pendulum reversal. Likely not in time to rescue a bunch of January 2016 calls, including some of mine. So be it - we might root with open enthusiasm for a last moment miracle, but we always knew the risks perfectly well, and will shoulder our losses with grace just as we celebrate our wins with restraint and respect. Having said that, while the market is often terribly myopic, on rare occasions it experiences a genuine forward looking epiphany. And anticipating the anticipation of other investors is an important facet of call option logistics, so we who use them to swing for the fence can be forgiven for trying to peer a bit further ahead and openly consider and debate both best case and worst case scenarios in an effort to perceive market epiphanies before they occur.

    And personally I'm developing a sense of time warp. Up to almost now, this year has been awful for Micron investors, and mediocre at best for Intel investors. Not just due to floundering profits, but also due to an appearance, in some measure, of major technology development malaise. But obviously important work has been occurring under investor's radar. And perhaps more than we realize thus far - perhaps Intel has already integrated 3D XPoint into major products in development labs, and perhaps some will be introduced surprisingly soon. I'm just speculating of course, but the relatively slow perceived pace of the last six months seems to me to have distorted our sense of the real pace of underlying progress. If so, the pace going forward may be perceived as unusually fast by the investing community. Which might juice the anticipation factor in the stock prices.

    January 2018 derivatives will become available relatively soon, and I'll shop very eagerly for perceived bargains among them. My sense is that there will be substantial developments in IT, robotics, AI, and life sciences which, in some cases lubricated by 3D XPoint, might be of sufficient magnitude soon enough to make 2018 calls seem especially alluring. I'm also inclined to think many 2017 calls will prove to be lucrative - I suspect the lull in consumer IT sales will reverse in some measure relatively soon. And even if sales simply revert to normal levels, Intel and Micron are currently priced roughly as if depressed levels will last indefinitely. So it's only natural for an aggressive investor to smell opportunity here, particularly when stimulating new technology's being added to the equation.

    Agreed that superlatives are frequently misused and can frustrate even experienced investors. I'm guilty too, but trying to reform myself. But there is an element of existential joy in investing endeavors too, and I'd hate to see these halls become too conservative, gray, and mundane. If so we'd lose a lot of the joy of investing, and also a lot of important exploratory information content. So while I agree that superlatives are often improperly employed, I never felt an urge to kiss a date with a mundane banker personality irrespective of her beauty, health, good hygiene, youth, etc. But add Bruce's intellect (in female form factor please), even if it's a bit over the top at times, and enthusiasm, and I'm all in.

    There is a kind of romance within the spiritual element of investing, and wisely leveraged it can be immensely constructive. And it's quite alive and healthy in these halls. I hope we can keep it that way.

    A separate thought spawned by the debate with g3: I have to wonder what level of performance IBM's Watson will achieve once optimally enhanced with 3D XPoint technology. Particularly if Watson's redirected to a securities management related role. HFT and bots certainly aren't the end story to cyber enhanced investing - greed being universal, far more serious AI will be employed, and perhaps rather soon. Change often seems slow, but sometimes it happens very fast. Especially if lubricated by either greed or war...

    Highly concentrated long Micron common and calls and Intel calls.
    Aug 2, 2015. 04:16 PM | 20 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • XPoint From Micron And Intel: A Strategic Coup [View article]
    Thanks again William regarding "I'm doubtful about the 3D NAND impact."

    I lean the other way, but believe it's far too early to be substantially confident. My sense of Intel's view comes primarily from Rob's comment at 36:08 in the presentation. And though development of 3D XPoint was immensely expensive, I heard nothing to the effect that ordinary fabrication of 3D XPoint will be expensive. (And it's not obvious from the structure that it should be, though I grant it's impossible to draw such a conclusion from a simple presentation slide.)

    My instinct is that Intel especially feels they have a solid IP moat with 3D XPoint, and, considering its superb storage performance, will fully milk it with very lofty margins, tapering them only in future years when other competitive pressures begin to build. If that's about right, it implies that 3D NAND will be the technology of choice for ordinary applications simply because quite high retail prices for 3D XPoint storage will discourage its use by any but the richest hands with the most critical performance needs.

    Having said that, I don't know the basis of thinking by respected analysts - they might very well be privy to facts I've missed. But the 3D NAND story's been out much longer and is pretty solidly understood of course. And thus a bit entrenched - the story carries a bit of momentum. So if the raw reality is that 3D XPoint is an even better storage solution overall, it might simply take a week or two for analysts to reconsider 3D NAND's true position alongside ever so fresh 3D XPoint.

    Just my instinct at this stage...
    Jul 30, 2015. 03:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • XPoint From Micron And Intel: A Strategic Coup [View article]
    Thanks William! It's hard to imagine a more appealing embellishment to the HMC (Hybrid Memory Cube) - inclusion of layers of 3D XPoint seems like a perfectly natural fit for HMC to me too.

    And yet, a fan of TSV (Through Silicon Via) and HMC notwithstanding, my current view is that Intel has other appealing ways to achieve a highly intimate SoC to memory and storage connection as well, including optical (if it's sufficiently developed).

    Currently I don't feel well informed enough to guess which connection method Intel thinks will perform best for any particular class of SoC though. (Though it's tempting to think there'll ultimately come a day when even substantially different fabrication processes will be layered in direct silicon on silicon 3D structures - someday...)

    But at this time perhaps Micron's options for accomplishing highly intimate connections with SoCs fabricated by firms other than Intel begin and end with HMC - if they have other options, I'm not privy to them. Thus perhaps 3D XPoint will amplify HMC's role significantly. Perhaps...
    Jul 30, 2015. 02:40 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • XPoint From Micron And Intel: A Strategic Coup [View article]
    If you're interested in the IP question, I recommend going to precisely 31:00 in the webcast and watch Rob Crooke as he says:

    "Yea I agree and it's - you know as far as being in the memory business, ah, it's good to have something other people don't have, that's for sure."

    Look at the wide grin on Rob's face at the end of that comment - it's classic. I'd swear he's just one step away from looking into the camera then saying, 'Hey competitors...' while putting the tip of his thumb against the tip of his nose and waving his fingers back and forth in the air. It's a truly great grin...

    Combined with the later comment I mentioned above, my sense is that they feel they have a wide and solid moat - I think they're confident that 3D XPoint or similar won't be emanating from anyone but Micron and Intel for a long time. There's no definitive indication I'm aware of, but the subtleties of the webcast suggest to me that it's so.

    They also said (I don't recall when) that 3D XPoint won't affect the 3D NAND road map - they were very clear about that. My guess is that it could on a technical and maybe even cost basis - it seems clearly superior in every performance category, and though I have no sufficient basis to judge yet, my guess is that it's not intrinsically more expensive than 3D NAND to fabricate, or at least not substantially so. And recall Rob's comment at 36:08 - he all but said 3D XPoint will be the mass storage tech of choice for applications which require peak performance.

    So my guess is that Micron and Intel feel nobody else can touch this technology, so they're at liberty to leverage thrilling margins out of it until all the rich hands have ponied up a lot of dough to acquire it. Then they'll leverage all they can from the next tier of wealth and so on until, finally, the time to start displacing 3D NAND as a matter of consolidating products for industrial efficiency arises. And they'll still make a bunch of money so long as their moat remains intact.

    It's a very rosy picture for Micron and Intel, suggesting reality can't possibly be so pleasing. And yet, for me at least, multiple reviews of the webcast seem to reveal enough connecting hints of a solid IP position for a very solid technology coup. It's hard to imagine a more appealing situation (except to have clear proof of each factor).

    It should be fascinating to watch Intel's stock performance today. I don't see much reason for skepticism in this development, and I suspect multiple analysts will start exuding excitement quite soon. In my view Intel should have risen at least 10% yesterday. But I suspect high excitement lag time won't last long...
    Jul 29, 2015. 07:35 AM | 8 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • XPoint From Micron And Intel: A Strategic Coup [View article]
    Thanks Jordan, very kind.

    On the IP front, I listened to all but the last 7.5 minutes of the webcast again. At about 36:30 a summary of IP questions was asked, with Rob Crooke of Intel responding "Yea uh, today we're really talking about the ... the technology itself and what its capabilities are, and this was a jointly, uh, developed technology that we both, uh, have rights to and beyond that it probably doesn't make sense... [to discuss IP issues any further in this presentation]"

    Just speculating from his demeanor and wording, I suspect Intel and Micron believe they possess significant IP barriers which they aren't obliged to share with outside firms (including SanDisk / Toshiba). But I'm just purely speculating of course...

    As interesting was the question and answer (again from Rob Crooke) just previous, at about 36:08: "...do you see this having a big affect on solid state drives as well?" "Uh, it'll be, uh, you know really fast, uh, storage uh capability, and so it could attach, either from a storage or memory attach point, so for the highest performance storage it'll be a great alternative."

    That seems to imply displacement of 3D NAND storage, initially in higher performance applications. And given both firm's excitement about the scalability of 3D XPoint in both x/y and z, plus the superior endurance claims, it seems to me that it might displace all NAND in time. Rob Crooke seemed to me to leave that interpretation open...

    So if 3D XPoint proves to be as solid as hoped, it seems to me that it'll simply render NAND, including 3D NAND, ultimately obsolete. (Assuming 3D XPoint can scale vertically as economically as 3D NAND. But at the moment I see no obvious reason it shouldn't).

    If 3D XPoint proves to be as solid as hoped, the TAM (Total Addressable Market) would seem to be, figuratively speaking, almost open ended. So I can't help but wonder what kinds of frantic CapEx and facilities scrambles are occurring at Micron and Intel these days...

    And to indulge in a really big leap of speculation, I wonder what sorts of corporate maneuvers will ultimately occur to put facilities owned by other firms into productive fabrication of new rather than suddenly obsolete technology...
    Jul 29, 2015. 05:16 AM | 10 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • XPoint From Micron And Intel: A Strategic Coup [View article]
    Wow, great review William! Hastily composed, yet smooth as silk as if labored over for an extended period. Thanks so much!

    I'm not privy to the facts, and hope RSA or others will weigh in, but I'm suspicious that IP cross license agreements among these parties are limited in scope to preconceived technologies (though inclusive of modest evolutionary enhancements of them) - I suspect they don't cover substantially new technologies.

    I thought I heard a positive comment in the presentation about an IP advantage as well, though I need to listen to it again - maybe I misremember. (And I can't be definitive about any aspect of this matter.)

    Independently: I'm suspicious Intel has been developing means to include 3D XPoint into their current SoCs since last year. As bright minds here have noted, code to support NV memory in major OSs was released last year. In my estimation Intel can't have been sitting on their hands on the hardware side of the matter - I suspect variants of all their current SoCs which incorporate highly intimate XPoint, whether directly in the die, or so intimately attached as to have a very nearly full speed channel with XPoint, are being rushed to readiness. So I suspect more surprises are in the near term event queues. And that Intel's fortunes in this drama are being sorely underestimated by the investment community.

    Intel should have risen at least 10% yesterday too. In my insipid opinion... (But granted Micron's microscopic P/E is no small lubricant for a fast investment community reaction. With a 6 P/E on their pedestrian business, measured in a rather deep dip in a demand cycle, it's a whale of a challenge to find any credible down side investment risk to Micron at this time.)

    Highly concentrated long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls.
    Jul 29, 2015. 12:38 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Deal Likely To Get Washington Nod [View article]
    Thanks so much GAlan - very kind of you!

    Just Some Guy, you might be right of course - perhaps there's nothing less quantifiable or more chaotic than matters involving politics and the more superficial elements of American (or perhaps any other) culture.

    But my instinct is that democrats won't take a chance with the potential political ramifications of a loss of a strategically critical technology gem, especially to China. Particularly as a presidential campaign accelerates. My sense is that republican leaning elements of the press would pounce on the issue, in the most animated cases characterizing the prospect as mortifying. And of course the less savory debating environments would add much more venom to the discussion - eventually someone will say something like 'If Micron, then Intel will be next!', or satirize Pentagon cyber systems and American missiles as having "Made in China" prominently stamped on their surfaces.

    My sense is that democrats will see the issue as fraught with significant body politic risks but offering precious few if any potential rewards. So to me it's inconceivable that they'd tolerate the risks involved in approving such a purchase. If they embrace the issue publicly at all, they might firmly block any such offer and then spin their posture as an illustration of their 'Strong stand on national security'.

    But, depending upon whether any offer actually exists, and if so whether it's followed by an at least marginally credible one, we'll see. In the meantime perhaps we should just agree to disagree on this one...
    Jul 20, 2015. 07:14 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Deal Likely To Get Washington Nod [View article]
    In my estimation those well studied in Micron and its technology base will dismiss this article - considering its irreplaceable technology and IP assets, and for multiple other reasons, Tsinghua Unigroup will not acquire Micron at any price irrespective of China's massive US Treasury holdings and likely larger than stated gold holdings.

    If the democratic party so much as hinted they were considering allowing China to purchase Micron, the eventual political fallout would be an almost assured republican white house victory in 2016 - the republication party, in sufficient measure backed by the press, would absolutely roast democrats with all manner of national security incompetence allegations (both legitimate and slanderous of course). And democrats are perfectly well aware of this potential. And whatever interest they have in better trade relations with China (which isn't entirely founded in naivete to begin with) pales in comparison to their passionate desire to maintain control of the white house.

    Both parties are remarkably stupid about a great many things, and seem almost wholly bereft of ordinary ethical standards. But they're quite skilled with dark alley knife fight class politics. And the very first question which will arise when a possible China purchase of Micron issue is raised in any partisan meeting will be "What are the political fallout metrics?"

    So the white house won't touch this issue other than to say, when pressed for a comment, that no such deal will be considered for approval - the democrats simply can't afford to hand a loaded and cocked pistol to the republicans.

    I don't doubt that China wants Micron, and is ultimately wiling to pay a price which would actually tempt many stakeholders. And they might even invoke modestly veiled threats to leverage their US debt and gold holdings by suggesting that America should play ball to insure stability of its economic system. But American political party interests will prevail in a heartbeat even if a threat to destabilize the American economic system is no bluff.

    Take several steps back for a wider view of this matter. In the IT landscape storage technology is already an absolutely critical partner to processor technology and accelerating in importance. Of the four oligopoly members who produce modern storage components, major facilities of two, including the largest, Samsung, are within easy striking distance of a truly crazy neighboring military regime (but granted Hynix's lesser role in the group). And barriers to entry in the business are beyond immense - they're essentially overwhelming. And China is a frienemy to the US - it's not a genuinely trusted partner, and it rather habitually pushes civilized sovereign relationship envelopes. (No offense to Chinese people - a government and its people are two entirely different things of course.)

    Micron is irreplaceable, and insofar as this issue's concerned the notion that China would successfully acquire Micron is like an only moderately smaller brother to the notion that China would successfully acquire Intel.

    The offer, to the extent it might exist, isn't serious to begin with. And so long as US / China relations remain even modestly tense and US politics remains filthy, both of which have no end in sight, no such offer will survive nor even be taken genuinely seriously.

    Politicians might risk their future fortunes by printing America's debt, including China's treasury debt holdings of course, into oblivion in spite of uproars over near hyper inflation. But they will not commit assured suicide by allowing China to purchase Intel. Nor almost assured suicide by allowing China to purchase Micron.

    All just in my insipid opinions of course...

    Intensely long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls.
    Jul 19, 2015. 05:10 PM | 19 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tsinghua Unigroup's Bid For Micron And Other Fantasies [View article]
    Terrific read as usual, thanks William!

    If we set all the stakeholder's short term interests aside for a moment and just consider Micron's corporate interests, this move by Tsinghua Unigroup clearly hurts Micron because it renders retirement of convertible bonds or stock repurchases considerably more expensive. Simply stated, this Tsinghua Unigroup move weakens Micron's financial position.

    I don't mean to suggest that I conclude that was Tsinghua Unigroup's motive - we simply can't know what's afoot yet. But this event did hurt Micron. And moderate to long term it hurts us too for the obvious reasons.

    Intensely long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls.
    Jul 14, 2015. 11:33 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Technology: Q3 Happy Talk Vs. No Buybacks [View article]
    Speculating, and again setting a memory technology inflection point aside for the moment:

    Fog and frustrations aplenty notwithstanding, I won't abandon my positions in Micron or Intel, and will add to them as aggressively as possible in respect for what seems to me to be the bigger picture.

    IMFT 3D NAND samples have been in customer hands since November, and while a confirmation that they're substantially superior to any competing technology hasn't been revealed thus far as far as I know, neither have I heard so much as a hint suggesting they fail to meet such lofty expectations. So the possibility that IMFT has a solid winner here remains intact.

    Replacement of spinning rust is a rather dramatic technology inflection point evidently involving roughly $65 B rather moderate term. And we investors can't know when a confirmation that IMFT has a big win in this arena, if they do, might occur. Such news could even leak out by accident, particularly since customers are testing samples.

    Everyone must steer their own ship of course, but my intention is to hold tight and add as quickly and aggressively as possible for the simple reason that I think such large magnitude technology inflection points are rare, that the evidence tends to suggest that this might be a solid win for IMFT, and that a confirmation of that might occur at any time. Considering recent serious frustrations, there might be a lag time between such a confirmation and a resurgence of IMFT bullish sentiment. But I'm not inclined to count on it in search of lower entry prices - if the evidence is compelling enough to excite analysts, greed might render recent frustrations essentially irrelevant rather quickly.

    Michael Gayed said or quoted someone as saying something akin to 'Successful investing involves anticipation of the anticipation of others'. No easy task, but that's largely where the greater successes lie. And in this case my feeling is that IMFT probably does have a solid winner in 3D NAND, that this might be revealed at any time, and rather widely acknowledged shortly thereafter. I don't need nor expect capture of exact bottoms. I simply want to be solidly invested when 'the anticipation of others' begins to flourish.

    It was bloody difficult to see the recent precipitous fall coming - it was clearly above my pay range. But the next move seems at least a bit more clear.

    Oh. And now we have this: http://bit.ly/1RviaH4

    I'm sure many here feel, as I do, that there's no possible twist of Cosmic irrationality that will lead to Tsinghua Unigroup actually succeeding with an acquisition of Micron. But the event certainly underscores Micron's value looking forward. And it certainly invites rich speculation about what might happen next...
    Jul 13, 2015. 08:20 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Technology: Q3 Happy Talk Vs. No Buybacks [View article]
    Thanks BenAround! Per your more disciplined study, and as Phred perfectly clearly stated yet I somehow overlooked, I stand corrected regarding my "wholesale inaction" comment - $782 M spent repurchasing shares underlying the 2032 C & D converts is indeed tangible action.

    I must be getting senile - sometimes I just space out...
    Jul 13, 2015. 05:06 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Micron Technology: Q3 Happy Talk Vs. No Buybacks [View article]
    It's real treat, on both a human and material level, to read another uniquely insightful Electric Phred analysis - thanks so much!

    This is a mighty strange situation... I'm generally skeptical that any management team could orchestrate intentional dishonesty smoothly enough to successfully mislead almost everyone for an extended period, but I grant that some of the evidence - including essentially wholesale inaction with the share repurchase authorization - is compelling. And your recommendations for management make solid sense to me.

    I'm not an objective observer - I'm undisciplined by inclinations to speculate far too wildly. With that rational thinking disclaimer stated, this strange landscape leads me to wonder whether this team is deeply distracted by some larger affair. I'm struck by their statements that there will be substantially more 3D NAND demand than can be satisfied by the Singapore facility expansion. And, if IMFT's 3D NAND is as competitively solid as has been rather consistently represented, SanDisk / Toshiba's potentially untenable technology lag plus the sheer size of the growing storage market in the context of replacement of spinning rust (TM Electric Phred), and Intel's likely hunger to dominate this market invites irresistible speculation about what might become of SanDisk / Toshiba. And Micron's not shy about dramatic high risk maneuvers. Nor is IMFT in my estimation.

    So I'm inclined to wonder whether dramatic technology transitions to come rather soon are wagging the Micron management dog, making them look foolish or even dishonest when in fact they're mostly just deeply distracted by bigger dramas and thus unable to represent normal affairs with normal competence. Or to be more direct, I wonder whether they're considering reallocating the share repurchase allocation, perhaps in partnership with Intel, in a maneuver designed to fully leverage an unusually solid technology lead in a $65 B plus market.

    Weaving your "Not terribly sure all the institutions and hedge funds are going to sit idly buy and watch this team pilot the toboggan down the slope." comment into all this, I'm inclined to suspect they'd have already kicked up visible dust if not for their own suspicions, or possibly even knowledge, that bigger issues are in play.

    The storage market story seems immensely compelling to me. At http://bit.ly/1RupC5p Russ said "I believe the dramatically improved endurance and data retention of these [3D NAND] parts will make this technology the must-have NAND for the next 3-5 years. I think all competitive 2D and 3D NAND will look like junk next to the Micron/Intel product. The SSD (Solid State Drive) business is expected to total $65 billion, all based on high performance NAND memory. This should peg the needle on the Micron growth-o-meter for the next five years."

    To me that story overshadows most other issues, and invites even level headed observers to speculate on corporate repositioning which might be forced by the sheer magnitude of a big IMFT 3D NAND technology win. My attention turns to SanDisk / Toshiba's fate, but others can probably provide more compelling speculation.

    Whatever the case, apparent incompetence might simply be a hint of a deeply rooted and large distraction. Perhaps an ultimately very profitable one.

    And all that's essentially independent of a possible memory technology coup too, in about the same time frame.

    But again I'm given to wild speculation. I defer to others in these halls for more sober commentary.

    Though certainly well bruised, I remain intensely long Micron common and calls, and Intel calls, and won't sell under current circumstances. I'm particularly interested in upcoming events, including especially Intel's earnings report (though I don't presume any dramatic news will be revealed then - I just consider it an outside possibility). In any case my instinct suggests that the next few months could prove to be fascinating...
    Jul 13, 2015. 12:54 PM | 14 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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