Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Demand Is Even Less Insatiable Than It Used To Be

In Demand Is Far From Insatiable I looked at Chris Mellor's overview of the miserable Q2 numbers from Seagate, Nearline disk drive demand dip dropkicks Seagate: How deep is the trough, how deep is the trough?, and Western Digital,  Weak flash demand and disk sales leave Western Digital scrabbling to claw back $800m a year. This quarter was equally dismal. Below the fold, the gory details.

The details are in Paul Kunert's ironically headlined WD, Seagate romp over Q3 finishing with glorious sales and profit. The sub-head is more accurate:
Oh no, sorry that was another quarter in a different year - top and bottom lines wobble amid corp procurement slowdown
As in the previous quarter, Western Digital had the worst of it:
sales for the quarter ended 29 March fell 26.7 per cent year-on-year to $3.7bn, with hard disks down 20.4 per cent to $2.1bn and flash sliding by a third to $1.6bn. As a result the bit biz lot $374m for the quarter.

The sequential average selling price per gigabyte declined 23 per cent. WD now expects total disk exabyte shipments in capacity to be flat or slightly up this year.

Gross profit for the quarter fell to $579m from $602m a year earlier, operating expenses dropped by $40m to $973m, leaving a loss from operations of $394m, versus an operating profit of $914m in Q3 ’18.

Interest expenses and income, along with tax, resulted in a net loss of $581m, versus a net profit of $61m.
Seagate was less unhappy:
revenues came in a $2.31bn, down 17.5 per cent year-on-year. ... Demand for product from the hyperscale vendors was up “slightly” but not enough to “fully offset the slower demand from OEM and others global cloud customers”.

“As a reminder, demand for our Nearline drives began to slow in the December quarter, as cloud service providers work through the inventory build-up during calendar 2018. However, we anticipate this pause to be short lived”.

Seagate shipped 77 exabytes of capacity in the quarter, down 12 per cent sequentially.

As for the rest of its results, operating expenses fell 12 per cent to $2.01bn. Operating profit was $236m, versus a profit from ops of $441m a year earlier. Interest income and expenses left net profit at $195m, down from $381m. Earnings per share were just $0.69, less than half compared to this time last year.
Why did "cloud service providers" have an "inventory build-up during calendar 2018"? Because the demand for storage from their customers was even further from insatiable than the drive vendors expected. Even the experts fall victim to the "insatiable demand" myth.

In Apple and Samsung feel the pain as smartphone market slumps to lowest shipments in 5 YEARS, Kunert reports that the demand for flash memory is equally far from insatiable:
Figures from analyst Canalys show that 313.9 million handsets were shifted in the three months, down 6.8 per cent - the sixth straight quarter of shrinkage in a sector that has given consumers little reason to upgrade.

Chaebol Samsung, which filed its calender Q1 yesterday, held onto the top spot by some margin - though a 10 per cent decline in sales to 71.5 million clipped its market share from 23.6 per cent a year ago to 22.8 per cent. Huawei snuck into second spot with 50 per cent climb in shipments to 59.1 million, giving it a 18.8 per cent share of sales, versus 11.7 in Q1 '18.

The troubles continued at Apple, following a disappointing Xmas holidays quarter, as it reported 40.2 million unit shipments, down 23.2 per cent, reducing its share to 12.8 per cent from 15.5 per cent.
These high-end smartphones are a big part of the demand for flash memory.

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