What happened

Shares of computer memory maker Western Digital Corporation (WDC 1.51%) are spinning higher Friday, up 10.8% as of 10 a.m. EST -- not due to any internet-inspired market manipulation, but because of a good old-fashioned earnings beat.  

Expected to report $0.54 per share in pro forma profit on sales of $3.9 billion, Western Digital nailed the revenue target in its fiscal second-quarter 2021 report released yesterday evening, and blew right past the earnings goal with $0.69 per share.  

A dollar folded into the shape of an arrow.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Granted, when calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), Western Digital's profits weren't quite as great as that pro forma number. By GAAP standards, the company earned only $0.20 per share. Still, that was a whole lot better than the $0.47 per share Western Digital lost in the year-ago quarter -- and the company accomplished this despite its sales for the fiscal second quarter declining 7% year over year.

Moreover, real free cash flow for the quarter was $149 million -- more than twice reported net income of $62 million.

Western Digital management described these results as "solid," highlighting "strength in the retail business." Where weakness was found, it was in the company's data center devices division (servicing the company's "cloud titan" customers), where sales plummeted 46% year over year.

Now what

Western Digital forecasts fiscal third-quarter 2021 sales between $3.85 billion and $4.05 billion -- which at the midpoint exceeds analyst forecasts. Likewise, the company's forecast for pro forma profits -- $0.55 to $0.75 per share -- appears on track to edge out analyst predictions for $0.64 per share.

In short: After beating earnings in Q2, Western Digital is planning to do it again in Q3.