Micron Technology posted mixed quarterly results hurt by low prices for its memory chips but said market conditions appeared to be improving.
The slide into bankruptcy of Japanese DRAM chipmaker Elpida in February has created expectations of a recovery this year of prices pushed low by oversupply.
But worries about weak prices put pressure on Micron's stock in after-hours trade, even as recently appointed Chief Executive Mark Durcan told analysts on a conference call that DRAM pricing was improving.
Durcan also said the supply/demand outlook for NAND chips was looking up.
In its first earnings report since former Chief Executive and Chairman Steve Appleton died in a small-plane crash in February, Micron said that compared with the first quarter, it sold 20 percent more NAND and DRAM chips by volume in the second quarter. But it said that increase was offset by lower average selling prices.
Appleton was replaced by Durcan, who had been Chief Operating Officer and was long seen as the company's even-keeled top technologist.
The demise of Elpida has boosted Micron's stock on expectations the Japanese company's DRAM output, estimated to be about 12 percent of global production, could permanently disappear, pushing up prices in the beleaguered industry.
Analysts believe Micron is likely to bid for at least one of Elpida's two fabrication plants in Japan and Taiwan, which could be reconfigured to make more profitable NAND chips widely used in tablets, smartphones and other handheld gadgets.
We'll be evaluating market situations as they develop and look for opportunities to strengthen Micron's competitive position, Durcan told analysts on the call.
He said pricing, intellectual property, the competitive landscape and possible improvements in efficiency would all play into Micron's consolidation strategy.
The top U.S. memory manufacturer said on Thursday revenue in its fiscal second quarter, ended March 1, was $2.07 billion, compared with $2.26 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts on average expected $2.02 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Micron said gross margin fell to 13 percent from 15 percent in the prior quarter due to pressure in its NOR flash sales in the wireless market.
Micron reported a net loss of $224 million, or 23 cents per share, in the quarter, versus a net profit of $72 million, or 7 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Analysts expected a loss of 19 cents.
Shares of Micron dipped 2.4 percent in extended trade after closing 0.34 percent lower at $8.71 on the Nasdaq.
(Reporting By Noel Randewich; Editing by Gary Hill and Steve Orlofsky)