Micron Technology Inc. notched its worst performance in four years Thursday, announcing the loss of $1 billion in fiscal 2012 and evoking memories of the profit drought that beset the company from 2006 to 2009.
Company executives said theyre trimming unnecessary spending, but they arent considering cutting jobs in Boise.
Weve gone through that in the past, said Mark Adams, Microns president, in an interview with the Idaho Statesman. Were not anticipating any major changes in Boise.
Micron cut 4,000 jobs between 2007 and 2009 on its Boise campus, culminating in the decision to end chip manufacturing here. The company now has about 5,600 employees in Boise.
Microns red ink reflects traditional peaks and valleys of the memory chip industry, which can push a company below the profit line for a couple of years and then send profits soaring again.
This is the nature of the game, said Mike Howard, a semiconductor analyst in Boise for IHS iSuppli and a former Micron employee. Make sure you can weather a couple of these so you are around when the industry has a run of 12-18 months again.
Microns loss in 2012 was smaller than 2009, when the company reported $1.8 billion in red ink. Micron reported profits of $1.8 billion in 2010 and $167 million in 2011. The company has $2.5 billion in cash and short-term investments.
Micron is upbeat about its future largely because of its expected purchase of Elpida Memory Inc., a bankrupt Japanese semiconductor company. The purchase is expected to close next year.
The purchase will bring Micron a greater share of the worldwide market for memory chips through increased production capacity from Elpidas plants. A restructuring of Microns chip-making partnership with Intel will boost its capacity, too. Last winter, Micron bought Intels stake in two wafer factories the companies have operated under a joint venture.
What weve gotten dinged on in the past strategically is they we havent had the capacity to compete with Samsung and others, Adams said. Samsung, in Korea, is the worlds largest maker of digital memory.
Microns share of the market for its traditional product, dynamic random-access memory, could rise to 20 percent from 12 percent, Howard said. DRAM is the most common type of memory used in personal computer and mobile devices.
The Elpida acquisition comes with challenges. Micron will be taking over a company with one of the highest production costs for memory chips in the DRAM-making business. Quickly cutting those costs to keep them below volatile selling prices is essential for making money in the memory industry, Howard said.
Even with the Elpida purchase, Micron is still buffeted by a sagging economy, where sales of personal computers have been sluggish for three years. Howard expects a no-growth year for PCs in 2012. Sales of other devices are stronger, but they use less DRAM, he said.
Microns stock closed Thursday at $6.01, up 8 cents, before the companys earnings release. In after-hours trading, the stock rose an additional 2 cents to $6.03. Over the past year, the stock has traded between $3.97 and $9.16.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts