Right now, the market for computer memory products is positively booming. That demand, coupled with what appears to be continued discipline among the major players with respect to manufacturing capacity, has led to a surge in industrywide profits.
One such major player, and clear beneficiary from this trend, is U.S.-based memory specialist, Micron (NASDAQ:MU). Micron saw its revenue pop 92% year-over-year last quarter, with gross profit margin surging from about 18% in the prior year to 48% in the most recent quarter.
The combination of much greater revenue and much higher margins ultimately led the company to enjoy non-GAAP net income of $1.9 billion for the quarter, translating to $1.62 of earnings per share.
Management had a lot of interesting things to say on the conference call that accompanied these solid results. Here are three key items.
Explaining the margin surge
On the call, Micron CFO Ernie Maddock said that the company's strong gross profit margin performance year-over-year was driven by three major factors: "a stronger DRAM pricing environment, a better product mix, and lower cost-per-bit in both DRAM and NAND."
In the coming quarter, Micron expects the good times to continue, with overall gross profit margin of between 47% and 51% and earnings per share of "between $1.73 and $1.87."
Smartphone makers adding more RAM
Micron reported that sales of DRAM for mobile devices "was in the mid-20% range" last quarter.
One of the reasons that mobile seems to be growing quite nicely for Micron -- the company said that its mobile business raked in $1.1 billion in revenue and $304 million in operating income last quarter -- is that smartphone manufacturers continue to add more DRAM to their phones.
"When you look at the content of DRAMs in the mobile market, it really continues to increase nicely going in value smartphones from about a little over a gigabyte per phone to about doubling by the 2018 timeframe," Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said.
It's not just about content growth in low-end smartphones, though.
"The same trend is clearly happening on the high-end phones, too, where you are starting to see 4- and 6-gigabyte DRAM content," the executive added.
"So, overall, when you look at the year-over-year trends in 2017, as well as when you look at the trajectory in 2018, mobile does continue to be a strong market," Mehrotra said.
Success in "graphics and high-performance memory"
Mehrotra said on the call that the company continues "to build upon [Micron's] strong position in graphics and high-performance memory technology," highlighting its shipments of "12 gigabits per second GDDR5X, the industry's fastest discrete DRAM."
The executive later said that the company's graphics memory business saw "double-digit revenue growth" last quarter "driven by strength in the game console market, as well as new PC graphics card product launches, including the G5X-based Titan Xp from NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)."
Graphics memory is part of Micron's broader "specialty DRAM" portfolio, which the company said made up "mid-20%" of the company's overall DRAM business (itself 64% of its revenue last quarter).