SanDisk Reaps What Apple Sows

"Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we're out of beta, we're releasing on time
So I'm glad I got burned, think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive"
-- From "Still Alive," by Jonathan Coulton as GLaDOS, 2007

These are sweet, sweet times for computer memory makers -- the ones that survived the terror of 2007 and 2008, that is.

Following stellar results from Micron Technology (NYSE: MU  ) , which makes many different kinds of computer memory, it's flash memory specialist SanDisk's (Nasdaq: SNDK  ) turn to enjoy some cake. First-quarter sales jumped by 65%, to $1.1 billion, while GAAP earnings of $0.99 per diluted share aren't even comparable to the net loss of $0.92 seen a year ago.

There are many trends powering SanDisk's brilliant results. Its stunning quarter once again points toward hot demand for consumer electronics at retail channel customers like Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS  ) and RadioShack (NYSE: RSH  ) , both of which sell memory cards and USB drives from SanDisk. The company also provides storage for cell-phone and smartphone products, and SanDisk hopes to capitalize on the incoming surge of tablet computers imitating the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad, as flash-based storage is the only sensible option in that kind of product for numerous technical and aesthetic reasons. The iPad itself doesn't benefit SanDisk, though, as teardowns of the device showed Apple gets the memory chips it needs from Samsung and Toshiba.

"With our leading technology, large scale manufacturing, diversified end markets, broad product portfolio, premium brand, and a strong balance sheet, we have powerful momentum to capitalize on future opportunities, says CEO Eli Harari. "We believe that in the coming decade, flash will be bigger than you think."

Given the technology's numerous advantages -- low power, no moving parts, lots of storage in a small physical space, ultrafast data reads, and more -- it's not hard to see flash memory chips moving into lots of new markets. The rise of smartphones that store lots of media and feature upgradable flash storage, like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android handsets and recent-model Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry phones, has been an absolute boon for SanDisk. And we've only just begun.

With first-quarter results in hand, SanDisk now trades at just 13 times trailing earnings. Is this the time to take a position in memory stocks like SanDisk, while the growth trends are still in their infancy? I wouldn't fault you for jumping in with both feet, but I'd love to hear what you think. The comments box below is open for discussion. Please have some cake -- it's so delicious and moist.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. National Poetry Month is a strange time that calls for strange measures. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple and Staples are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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