Mon, Nov. 16, 3:16 AM
- China's Tsinghua Unigroup is planning to invest 300B yuan ($47B) over the next five years to build the world's third-largest chipmaker and confirmed it was in talks with a U.S.-based company about a deal that could be finalized by the end of November.
- The state-owned tech firm declined to give more details of the transaction but said buying a majority stake was unlikely as it was too "sensitive" for the U.S. government.
- Over the last few months, Tsinghua prepped a $23B bid to acquire DRAM/NAND flash giant Micron (NASDAQ:MU) and took a 15% stake in Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC).
Mon, Nov. 9, 4:15 PM
- Less than two months after announcing Unisplendour (a subsidiary of China's state-controlled Tsinghua Unigroup) is buying a 15% stake at a hefty premium, Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) states it's forming a JV with Unisplendour to provide data center storage offerings for the Chinese market. Unisplendour will own 51%, and Western 49%. The JV is expected to become operational by Q2 2016.
- The move comes as Western gradually expands its enterprise storage lineup to feature (in addition to hard drives and SSDs) a variety of higher-level solutions. The company bought flash storage array vendor Skyera in late 2014, and object storage software provider Amplidata a few months later.
- The SanDisk acquisition will hand Western SanDisk's Fusion-io PCIe server flash module line and recently-launched InfiniFlash arrays, to go with SanDisk's enterprise SSD line.
Wed, Nov. 4, 5:29 AM
Thu, Oct. 29, 1:15 PM
- Western Digital's (WDC +1.7%) FQ1 results were roughly in-line with the outlook provided in its Oct. 21 pre-announcement (provided while announcing the SanDisk deal). The company guided on its earnings call (transcript) for FQ2 revenue of $3.3B-$3.4B and EPS of $1.50-$1.60, below a consensus of $3.45B and $1.75.
- Western is nonetheless trading higher. Archrival Seagate (STX -2.9%), which issued an FQ1 warning on Oct. 15 (enterprise share loss to Western is believed to be the culprit) and reports on Friday morning, is selling off.
- Western's gross margin fell 90 bps Q/Q and 120 bps Y/Y in FQ1 to 28.9%; it's expected to rise "slightly" in FQ2. $60M was spent on buybacks; Western has said it will suspend its buyback (while keeping its dividend) on account of the SanDisk deal.
- Hard drive shipments totaled 51.7M - 15.8M notebook, 11.7M desktop, 11.5M consumer, 5.6M branded, 7.2M enterprise - up from 48.5M in FQ4 and down from 64.7M a year ago. 66% of revenue came from non-PC markets, up from 55% a year ago (the SanDisk deal will further increase that number). Enterprise SSD revenue was $233M vs. $244M in FQ4 and $156M a year ago.
- On the earnings call (transcript), Western noted demand for high-capacity enterprise hard drives (beloved by Internet giants) was "somewhat softer than anticipated" due to the "absorption of previously deployed storage assets." Regardless, it still expects a 35% enterprise capacity CAGR through 2020.
- The company echoes others in declaring it sees "some signs of stabilization" in PC demand. Ahead of the SanDisk deal (will boost Western's SSD share and lower its flash costs), Western also reports seeing "a very competitive market" in enterprise SSDs.
- Western's FQ1 results, PR, datasheet (.pdf)
Wed, Oct. 28, 4:17 PM
Tue, Oct. 27, 5:35 PM
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Wed, Oct. 21, 9:32 AM
- Along with announcing a $19B deal to acquire SanDisk (SNDK +4.1%), Western Digital (WDC -2%) says it expects to report FQ1 revenue of $3.4B and EPS of $1.56 vs. a consensus of $3.28B and $1.56. Gross margin fell 90 bps Q/Q to 28.9%. With Seagate (STX -0.5%) having warned last week, the revenue outlook appears to confirm analyst suspicions Western gained enterprise hard drive share.
- Of Western's proposed $86.50/share payout to SanDisk, $85.10/share is in cash. The cash portion of the $86.50/share payout drops to $67.50/share if a planned investment in Western by Tsinghua Unigroup subsidiary Unisplendour (for a 15% stake) hasn't closed or is terminated.
- To help finance the deal, Western plans to obtain a whopping $18.4B worth of new debt facilities. It expects to continue paying its dividend, but will suspend its buyback program.
- Cost synergies are expected to reach a $500M/year run rate within 18 months; the deal is expected to be accretive to EPS within 12 months of closing (not surprising given it's mostly in cash). SanDisk's NAND flash manufacturing JV with Toshiba will be maintained.
- By acquiring SanDisk's NAND chip, controller, and SSD IP, and by gaining the ability to source NAND at cost, Western effectively neutralizes the cannibalization threat posed by SSDs/flash storage to its hard drive ops. For now, Seagate continues to rely on 3rd-party flash manufacturers; an alliance with Micron was formed in February.
- SanDisk is trading roughly 10% below Western's offer price.
Wed, Oct. 21, 8:00 AM
- SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) +5.2% premarket after agreeing to be acquired by Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) in a cash and stock deal valued at ~$19B, confirming earlier speculation.
- The $86.50/share offer represents a 15% premium to yesterday's closing price for SNDK.
- WDC says the acquisition will double its market and expand its participation in higher-growth segments, and enable it to vertically integrate into NAND; CEO Steve Milligan will continue to serve as CEO of the combined company.
- WDC -3.1% premarket.
- Earlier: SanDisk beats by $0.29, beats on revenue
Mon, Oct. 19, 4:42 PM
- Six days after reporting SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) has talked with Micron (NASDAQ:MU) and Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) about a potential sale, Bloomberg reports SanDisk is in advanced sale talks with Western.
- Negotiations are said to have "accelerated" over the weekend. A deal could be reached as soon as this week.
- Western has been viewed by analysts as a smoother fit than Micron, given it's not currently a NAND flash manufacturer - with many thinking Western needs to become one to insure itself against hard drive cannibalization by SSDs - and SanDisk and Micron respectively having NAND alliances with Toshiba and Intel.
- SNDK +8.3% after hours. WDC -3.1%. MU -1.3%. Micron joined SanDisk in rallying last week following Bloomberg's original report, fueled by expectations a deal would improve Micron's NAND scale and IP, and potentially lead to more favorable industry pricing.
- Earlier today: SanDisk gains following Korean site's M&A report
Mon, Oct. 19, 9:18 AM
- More than three years after Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) closed its acquisition of Hitachi's hard drive unit (HGST), China's Ministry of Commerce has approved integrating the business with Western Digital proper.
- The company will continue selling products under both the HGST and Western Digital brands, and maintain separate sales teams for two years. However, it plans to start integrating "corporate and other key functions, including [R&D], heads and media operations, engineering and manufacturing."
- HGST president Mike Cordano has been appointed to the newly-created position of COO. Western president Jim Murphy will now run the company's storage devices unit.
- Western is up 3.6% premarket. Archrival Seagate (NASDAQ:STX), hit hard last week by an FQ1 warning that some analysts argued indicates enterprise share loss to Western, is down 1.2%.
- Update (10:39AM ET): Western has given back its early gains. Seagate is down 2%.
Thu, Oct. 15, 7:08 PM
- "Based on the Pre-announcement and implied 117.5M [total addressable market], we believe Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) lost share on the Enterprise side of the business to Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC)," writes RBC's Amit Daryanani after taking in Seagate's FQ1 warning, which was blamed on weak nearline enterprise hard drive sales. "ASPs declined materially where Enterprise units (40% gross margins) are in the $100+/unit range while PC/gaming units are in the $55-$65/unit range."
- Likewise, Brean's Ananda Baruah thinks both slightly higher-than-expected industry shipments and Seagate's enterprise issues "suggest a net-positive impact" for Western through at least calendar Q4. However, he argues Seagate's issues are temporary. "We maintain conviction that STX’s normalized EPS remains at least $5.00 (a key level for us). Bottom line is that STX has issued a significant response to the softer PC environment by reducing its Opex $s 20% from the Mar ’15 Q and Mar Q ’16 ... Our $65 [target] (30% appreciation) is 12x our estimated FY17 EPS of $5.30 and 13x our CY16 EPS of $5.00."
- Seagate fell 13.3% in regular trading to new two-year lows. Western fell 2.5%.
Thu, Oct. 15, 9:17 AM
- Seagate (NASDAQ:STX) now expects to report FQ1 revenue of $2.9B vs. prior guidance of $2.9B-$3.1B and a $3.03B consensus. Unit shipments are expected to total 47M - up from FQ4's 45.3M but down from 59.5M a year ago - with Seagate maintaining a 40% share (implies a total market of 117.5M).
- Gross margin (non-GAAP) is now expected to be at 24%, below prior guidance of 27% and down from 27.2% in FQ4 and 28.1% a year ago. Seagate blames lower-than-expected demand for 4TB and 6TB nearline hard drives. An 8TB product was recently announced.
- FQ1 op. cash flow is expected to total $800M. 20M shares were repurchased.
- CEO Steve Luczo: "While Seagate had strong operating cash flows and made significant progress in cost containment in the September quarter, we are disappointed we did not execute a product portfolio that fully addressed the demand in the nearline market. Looking ahead, we are confident that our nearline product portfolio will be fully competitive by our fiscal third quarter."
- Full FQ1 results arrive on the morning of Oct. 30. Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC), recently rumored to have held buyout talks with SanDisk, is following Seagate lower. Seagate also issued an FQ4 warning in July.
Tue, Oct. 13, 5:07 PM
- Sources tell Bloomberg SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) is in talks with Micron (NASDAQ:MU) and Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) about a possible acquisition. No decision has been made.
- Acquiring SanDisk, which partners closely with Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF) on NAND flash manufacturing, would turn Micron (NAND partnership with Intel) into a heavyweight within the NAND market - Samsung and SanDisk/Toshiba are currently the market's biggest players. Micron received 32% of its August quarter revenue from flash, and 60% from DRAM. The company has been betting on 3D NAND and 3D XPoint to strengthen its flash position.
- Western has made several smaller flash-related acquisitions, as it tries to offset the gradual encroachment of SSDs/flash storage on hard drives. However, none of the buyout targets were comparable in scale to SanDisk, and Western still depends on 3rd-party NAND suppliers who also compete with the company in the SSD market.
- SanDisk +11.5% after hours to $68.90. Micron +2.6% to $18.65. Western +0.8% to $85.00.
- Earlier: SanDisk jumps on reported sale effort
Thu, Oct. 8, 5:23 PM
- IDC estimates global PC shipments fell 10.8% Y/Y in Q3 to nearly 71M units, a drop nearly as large as Q2's 11.8% and above a 9.2% projection. Gartner estimates shipments fell 7.7% to 73.7M.
- IDC: "Across many regions, the channel remained focused on clearing Windows 8 inventory before a more complete portfolio of models incorporating Windows 10 (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) Skylake processors comes on the scene ... Though easing a bit, currency devaluation continued to inhibit PC shipments in the third quarter. While Windows 10 has generally received favorable reviews and raised consumer interest in PCs, many users opted to upgrade existing PCs rather than purchase new hardware."
- Nonetheless, IDC is "optimistic" about a demand pickup. "While PC shipments will be hampered in the short run by the availability of a free upgrade to Windows 10, the improved PC experience across user segments should drive longer-term demand for new PC hardware..."
- Likewise, Gartner expects "more stable market conditions" in 2016. It's also pleased the U.S. notebook and "premium ultramobile" segments saw positive growth. Various analysts have reported seeing signs of stabilizing PC demand.
- With tablet sales also under pressure, tablet cannibalization is less of an issue than before. The ability of older PCs to handle mainstream computing tasks without trouble (including on Windows 10) may be a bigger problem. Many in the industry are hoping 4K video and/or virtual reality will fuel upgrades.
- The market's four biggest players all grabbed share from smaller firms with less scale. IDC estimates market leader Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) unit share rose 130 bps Y/Y to 21%, #2 HP's (NYSE:HPQ) 110 bps to 19.6%, and #3 Dell's 120 bps 14.3%.
- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), aided by 1H15 MacBook refreshes, came in at #4 with a 7.5% share, up 60 bps (revenue share is likely closer to 15%). A 4K 21.5" iMac is reportedly launching next week.
- Acer (OTC:ASIYF) rounded out the top-5 with a 7% share, down 150 bps. Everyone else collectively fell 270 bps to 30.6%.
- Related tickers: AMD, NVDA, STX, WDC, HTCH
Wed, Sep. 30, 12:43 PM
Wed, Sep. 30, 9:13 AM
Western Digital Corp is a developer, manufacturer and provider of data storage solutions that enable consumers, businesses, governments & other organizations to create, manage, experience & preserve digital content. Its products include HDDs and SSDs.
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