Many had been shocked once they heard the steering for FQ3 issued by Micron’s (MU) administration and watched the inventory take off (positively) in after-hours buying and selling final Wednesday. The two occasions did not align very properly since steering for the fiscal third quarter got here in under analysts’ expectations.
It’s clear there wasn’t an excessive amount of to rejoice, but the inventory jumped. Some of my fellow contributors additionally felt the adverse guidance meant doom and gloom for Micron for the remainder of the 12 months. However, simply making a numbers comparability does not result in medium-time period expectations for the reminiscence trade, nor does it inform us what Micron is anticipating within the latter half of this calendar 12 months – past what the present quarter’s steering suggests.
Second Half Recovery Still On Track
Some commenters on a number of Seeking Alpha information posts and articles repeatedly talked about administration’s saying of “low visibility.” However, this low visibility doesn’t imply the corporate does not have an thought of what its clients are doing or planning on doing. Considering massive reminiscence orders are negotiated forward of time, and even earlier than that time are in talks with clients about their wants, it isn’t arduous to contemplate Micron’s visibility out at the very least three months from now.
Now, what precisely administration is anticipating in three months? In the ready remarks CEO Sanjay Mehrotra gave this colour:
…as we mentioned on our final earnings name, we nonetheless anticipate DRAM bit shipments to start rising in our fiscal Q3, with demand progress strengthening within the second half of calendar 2019 as most buyer inventories are more likely to normalize by mid-12 months.
Further into the decision, an analyst requested a query about how administration had confidence within the second half of the 12 months and extra particularly within the FQ3 pickup of DRAM shipments and administration responded with:
If the consumption of DRAM by our clients in the long run markets, significantly cloud market continues to be wholesome, it’s simply that these clients are utilizing up their stock to satisfy that demand. And over the course of subsequent few months, by mid this 12 months, that stock will likely be returning to normalized ranges to a big extent, after which that can present for alternatives for a better demand within the second half of the 12 months in comparison with the primary half.
Considering this downturn began on account of elevated stock at clients, a return to normalized ranges by mid-12 months would imply a return to demand from these identical clients – which is exactly what administration expects.
Even if commerce worries proceed into the spring, clients are nonetheless going to have to tug at their nonetheless elevated inventories. Once these inventories are normalized – as Mehrotra put it – the pull from semiconductor firms will resume.
What About Inventory And Idling Wafers?
Moving onto the second portion of Micron’s initiatives which incorporates carrying increased stock ranges in addition to idling 5% of each DRAM and NAND wafer begins, analysts had been confused on how one can marry the second half expectations with the execution of reducing shipments. But if one had been to step again for a minute, they’d notice this is smart.
Considering stock builds are typical in downturns of the trade mixed with the actual fact solely three main gamers stay this time round, it isn’t incomprehensible to see 150 days of stock anticipated. Of course, that is the very best it has been in any downturn, however only a 12 months in the past many bears argued the oligopoly means little and it will not make a distinction. Instead, that is proving the oligopoly would relatively carry stock then promote into low pricing to be able to achieve market share. Furthermore, why would any of the foremost three resolve now, this far into the method, to clobber the market they’re working arduous to not let the underside drop out of? It’s not a logical premise to a bear thesis.
But how does one reconcile the 5% idling of wafers? Surely if Micron was anticipating a second-half restoration it needs to be ramping and on the brink of promote all it may well into the restoration to return to sequential income and earnings progress. Again, cease and take into consideration the place the trade is right now in comparison with the place it was two or three years in the past. With solely three gamers on this downturn, this can be a by no means earlier than occurring scenario. Meaning, Micron will likely be enjoying an element in serving to create this second half of the 12 months restoration.
If provide was not moderated together with expectations for demand (aiming for balanced provide/demand), then the restoration wouldn’t proceed on monitor and would proceed to be pushed additional out. Perhaps, even, it might not occur in any respect because the rise in demand within the second half of the 12 months can be met with provide focused for a requirement expectation of six months in the past. This would proceed an imbalance within the provide and demand construction and lead to an imbalance solely a lot increased demand might repair.
Marrying The Narrative With Guidance
The cause the market has not punished (down 2% since earnings doesn’t match the definition of punished) Micron is especially because of the numbers displaying relative energy at what seems to be the underside of the downturn. FQ3 steering is what the prior cycle tops had been at their finest. Margins, income, web revenue are all nonetheless above or at prior highs.
But how do we all know that is the underside, except for administration telling us a greater 12 months is forward? What the market is taking a look at is the rounding of the underside; the sign the worst expectations are behind the enterprise.
(Source: Micron’s earnings reviews, FQ3 steering, and creator’s FQ4 estimate)
The above chart reveals the earnings progress over the past three quarters, plus steering for the present quarter plus my estimate of $zero.60 in FQ4 EPS. Notice how the deceleration of incomes has begun to shift within the final quarter and steering created a rounding of the underside. Even with a sequential decline in earnings for FQ4, the expansion price continues its transfer again towards zero%, heading for a return to progress.
The above chart reveals the correlation between the final cycle’s low in 2016 into the rise in 2017. The inflection in FQ2 2016 and FQ3 2016 is similar level we’re seeing going into the second half of Micron’s fiscal 12 months now. It’s obvious the market tracks the rounding of the underside when it comes to quarter-to-quarter deceleration of and re-acceleration of progress.
This is why the corporate can difficulty draw back steering and nonetheless have the market reply properly – it is within the expectations of adverse progress slowing. Therefore, it isn’t incomprehensible the market can see the expectations for a greater second half, the idling of wafers, and the slowing of adverse earnings as Micron tagging the underside and heading increased essentially.
Overall the corporate has aligned itself for a second-half restoration and isn’t just spouting a story it isn’t backing up with stock changes, reducing provide, and matching capex for the anticipated demand. The firm is speaking the speak and strolling the stroll. The market not solely sees this but additionally sees earnings starting a spherical-out of the underside and even with a sequentially decrease FQ4 anticipated, the earnings progress has stopped decelerating and is starting to turnaround. I might be a purchaser at these ranges and maintain into the tip of the 12 months.
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Disclosure: I’m/we’re lengthy MU. I wrote this text myself, and it expresses my very own opinions. I’m not receiving compensation for it (aside from from Seeking Alpha). I’ve no enterprise relationship with any firm whose inventory is talked about on this article.