More Upside for MU Stock?
Perhaps the microchip industry has lost its mojo, because U.S.-based microchip maker Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) has plunged on the charts since last March. Indeed, last fall, Micron stock was trading around $14.50 per share—and even that was half the value, if not less, than its share price in 2014. Unfortunately, Micron stock recently suffered another major blow after the company delivered lackluster earnings at the end of June.
Truth be told, the earnings were merely half bad. For those who are bearish, consider that Micron stock has already seen the darkness in 2016. It fell below $10.00 during the cold winter months only to recover, gaining some 14% as spring arrived. Could it be that Micron has, in fact, become a seasonal stock?
Perhaps, but the main point for investors is that Micron still has some strength yet and investors may have treated it too harshly after its June 30 earnings report.
Altogether, the results could have been worse. Micron stock lost less than analysts had expected at $0.08 per share on $2.9 billion in revenue (rather than the consensus estimate of $0.09 per share on $2.96 billion in revenue). A year earlier, Micron did show $0.54 in earnings per share (EPS) and $3.85 billion in revenue, but MU stock’s price already reflected the decline in EPS and revenue prior to the recent quarter on a lower consensus estimate. (Source: “Micron Falls Flat on Mixed Earnings,” 24/7 Wall Street, June 30, 2016.)
If there’s a surprise here it’s that things aren’t as bad as they could be, which means investors shouldn’t dismiss Micron. They may even want to add MU stock to their radars.
Micron remains an essential company in the computer space. It manufactures dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and negative AND (NAND) chips that are used in all kinds of computers. While the lower prices of computers has put pressure on the value and price of memory chips, Micron actually sold 22% more DRAM chips year-over-year. In this sense, the amount sold more than made up for the lower unit price. (Source: “Micron Technology, Inc., Reports Results for the Third Quarter of Fiscal 2016,” Micron Technology, Inc., June 30, 2016.)
So long as consumers buy computers and at least until the next major memory storage revolution, the industry and consumers will need to buy chips from manufacturers like Micron. Moreover, there is a new market for computers right under most people’s noses—or better yet, under their car seats. Indeed, cars have much greater computing power than the “Saturn V” rocket that carried three men all the way to the moon.
In its latest earnings presentation, Micron said that its automotive-focused business produced a record $487 million. Carmakers have bought more of Micron’s DRAM and eMMC items because of the growing popularity of infotainment and driver assistance systems. Just like your laptop and desktop, these systems also need a storage channel.
It’s important to note that to cut costs, Micron is also cutting jobs. Of course, the company fails the social popularity contest in this area, but it does give Micron the chance to keep surviving in the face of a challenging business environment. Micron thinks it can reduce costs by $300 million via job cuts.
The takeaway on Micron is not exactly the most optimistic of scenarios, but neither is it gloom and doom. It’s just a matter of understanding that Micron has suffered and investors, even more than analysts, have acted on fear, punishing MU stock shares. Investors could return as they realize that MU stock has significant upside and could beat EPS expectations by the next quarter. After all, the stock has already absorbed the negativity—even a loss.
Nomura Securities has already increased its price target for Micron stock to $18.00. That’s well over 30% higher than the current share price of MU stock. This could just be the beginning.