Micron

For investors, there is a lot to contend with. Disney just cut 28k resort staff, American Airlines 19k, Allstate 3k: many others are following suit. In New York, bankruptcies are up 40%. Some data points to ongoing repair, other data a stall in activity. And then there is the increasingly toxic Presidential election; but enough of that. It is easy, then, to get sucked into following the 24-7 news feeds, and lose sight that companies continue to operate, to pivot and lean into the squally economic weather. Sales wait for no one. And behind the immediate economic and political fuss, long-term trends continue to offer a rich opportunity. Take Micron, the DRAM and NAND chip maker that has faced falling prices, a trade war, the pandemic and then a phone call from the US government saying doing business with its largest customer was now a strict no-no. The company posted results this week, results that beat forecast but were muddied by the stiff instruction to cut loose Huawei. As they might, Micron management are looking to start selling to other smart phone customers but they struck a conservative tone when offering near-term guidance. What’s striking for those who follow Micron, is that despite this potent mix of negatives, this is the first downturn where the company has remained profitable throughout. The bulls argue that this new-found resilience – a result of a more rational and consolidated industry – will attract a re-rating when the cycle turns. Micron is also moving up the value chain, diversifying into new end markets and is at the nexus of a smarter, connected, 5G world. Near term, pricing may remain subdued, and there is always a risk a new entrant tries to muscle in on the game, although this is less likely now with the Chinese potentially out of the game. But such are the attractions of the long-term market dynamics for the leading chip makers, these periods of subdued valuations offer an increasingly compelling opportunity.