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Why Western Digital Stock Plunged Today

By Evan Niu, CFA - Oct 31, 2019 at 12:58PM

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A soft profit forecast and CEO transition overshadowed solid results in the fiscal first quarter.

What happened

Shares of Western Digital (WDC -2.11%) have plunged today, down by 15% as of 12:30 p.m. EDT, after the company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings. The results beat expectations, but the data storage technology specialist said its CEO would be stepping down and issued a soft outlook for the next quarter.

So what

Revenue in the fiscal first quarter came in at $4 billion, topping the consensus estimate of $3.93 billion in sales. That translated into adjusted net income of $101 million, or $0.34 per share, while analysts were modeling for $0.30 per share in adjusted profits.

Western Digital storage products

Image source: Western Digital.

In a statement, CEO Steve Milligan said:

Fiscal year 2020 is off to a good start. The continued success of our capacity enterprise drives for the data center was the primary driver of the upside we experienced in the fiscal first quarter. The overall demand environment remains solid. We continue to believe the flash industry has passed a cyclical trough, with improving trends across our flash product portfolio. With a broad and growing product portfolio, Western Digital remains well positioned to benefit from the long-term drivers of the growth and value of data.

Now what

Speaking of Milligan, Western Digital announced that the chief executive would be retiring once the company finds a permanent successor. Milligan has been CEO since January 2013 and will remain in an advisory role through September 2020 to facilitate an orderly transition. After a successor is found, Milligan will continue to serve on the board of directors "for a transition period." The company has tapped an executive search firm to assist in finding a new CEO.

In terms of guidance, Western Digital forecast revenue of $4.1 billion to $4.3 billion in the fiscal second quarter, which should result in adjusted earnings per share of $0.45 to $0.65. Wall Street is currently expecting sales of $4.22 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $0.75.

Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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