By Emily Bary
Applied Materials, Lam Research shares also gain after Goldman upgrades
Memory companies appear to be depleting their NAND inventories more quickly than anticipated, and that's good news for Micron Technology Inc., according to Goldman Sachs.
Analyst Mark Delaney upgraded Micron shares () to buy from neutral on Monday, citing his expectations for an improved supply/demand balance in the coming months. The stock is up 2.8% in Monday morning trading.
"The call we are making to buy Micron shares is earlier than our view of when fundamentals will bottom (we expect trough EPS and trough gross margins in the February quarter for Micron)," Delaney wrote. "However, we believe this may be appropriate given that historical performance indicates that investors have been more anticipatory when trading Micron stock in recent cycles, in particular as cycle-to-cycle earnings power and margins have been improving in DRAM."
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Delaney also anticipates that improving NAND fundamentals will be a positive catalyst for the stock, as NAND pricing has improved and inventories deplete. "We expect the pick-up in NAND to be viewed as a leading indicator for DRAM," he wrote, while raising his price target on the shares to $56 from $40. "In addition, we continue to expect the underlying rate of production to fall below longer-term demand growth in 2020 and allow for better supply/demand."
He believes that NAND inventory began to come down in June at memory companies and that the power outage at Toshiba Memory Corp (). "will help deplete inventory faster."
Goldman's rosier view of the memory landscape led to upgrades of several big chip-equipment names as well. Analyst Toshiya Hari raised his rating (Lam Research Corp. (LRCX) and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) shares to buy from neutral, and he elevated Applied to Goldman's conviction list. He also upgraded KLA Corp.'s stock (KLAC) to neutral from sell.) on
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"Predicated on our improved outlook in memory as well as our view that competitive dynamics will keep logic/foundry spending elevated, we now forecast the [wafer-fab equipment] market to grow 7% year over year in 2020, up from our prior assumption of flat year over year," Hari wrote. He expects that capital-expenditure cuts from memory manufacturers will drive a stronger supply/demand balance than he originally modeled.
Applied shares are up 3.9% in morning trading, while Lam shares are up 3.6% and KLA shares are up 1.4%. Applied's stock has risen 52% so far this year, compared with a 34% increase for the PHLX Semiconductor Index and a 19% gain for the S&P 500 in that time.
-Emily Bary; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 23, 2019 07:19 ET (11:19 GMT)
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