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SanDisk Q1 Lacks Luster, Shares Fall

SNDK

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SanDisk Corp.’s (SNDK - Analyst Report) first quarter 2012 adjusted earnings of 58 cents per share missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3 cents. The adjusted or non-GAAP earnings per share exclude amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, convertible debt interest and tax gains, but include stock-based compensation expense.

Following the earnings release, the company’s shares plunged 13.76% in after-market trade as the earnings dropped a significant 41.1% from the year-ago level. The weakness was mainly due to lower demand for its mobile cards at some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and weak pricing.

Revenue

Total revenue for the first quarter was $1.21 billion, down 6.8% on a year-over-year basis. The quarter’s result was roughly in line with the company’s expectation of $1.20 billion and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.24 billion. The revenue deceleration was due to weak performances in both Retail and OEM verticals.

Segment wise, Product revenue decreased 8.6% year over year to $1.47 billion, while License and Royalty revenue came in at $99.1 million, up 18.1% year over year.

Operating Results

Reported gross margin in the quarter was 34.5%, down 810 basis points (bps) from the year-ago quarter. The margin decline was due to higher cost as well as price declines.

Operating margin was 15.9% versus 27.0% in the year-ago quarter. The company’s total operating expenses increased 11.0% on a year-over-year basis. Higher operating expenses were mainly due to a 17.9% year-over-year increase in research and development (R&D) costs, partially offset by lower general and administrative costs.

Net income on a GAAP basis was $114.4 million or 46 cents per diluted share compared with $224.1 million or 92 cents in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding the amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, convertible debt interest expense and related tax adjustments, but including stock-based compensation expense, non-GAAP net income for the first quarter was $142.2 million or 58 cents per diluted share compared with $241.6 million or 99 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

SanDisk generated $209.6 million in cash from operating activities, compared with $67.2 million in the prior quarter. Capital expenditure was $144.2 million. Cash and short-term investments were $2.67 billion versus $2.85 billion in the previous quarter. Long-term marketable securities were $2.8 billion. Convertible long-term debt for the quarter was $1.63 billion, up from $1.60 billion in the previous quarter.

Outlook

Management believes that price declines will continue in the second quarter, but also stated that scenario could improve in the second half of fiscal 2012. Management also expects higher demand for its mobile and SSD solutions, which will likely boost its revenue growth in the third and fourth quarters.

Our Take

SanDisk posted a weak first quarter with both the top and bottom lines missing the Zacks Consensus Estimates. Both OEM and retail sides of the business showed weakness. Second quarter guidance was feeble, citing some demand uncertainty from smartphone makers as well as continued price declines.

Though near-term visibility, memory price declines, lackluster PC sales, European issues and currency fluctuations are headwinds, we remain positive on the management’s commentary reflecting a turnaround story in the second half of the year and vibrant secular demand for NAND flash.

Currently, SanDisk holds a Zacks #4 Rank, implying a short-term Sell rating.

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