It's hardly a surprising move -- rumors of Micron's departure from the image sensor arena have been floating around ever since that division was renamed Aptina about a year ago. But the situation came to a head very quickly as the bottom fell out of the whole market for fancy camera chips.
When Micron reported earnings in early April, the imaging segment had a 39% year-over-year revenue drop to just $83 million. That puts it behind chief rival OmniVision Technologies'
Equity firms TPG Capital and Riverwood Capital will take Aptina off Micron's hands. We don't have a buyout price, but Micron will take a $100 million loss in its fourth quarter to account for this deal. Yeah, "ouch," and all that -- but the imaging chips ran at a $102 million operating loss last quarter anyway. It hurts Micron less in the long run to just get rid of the thing. Well, most of the thing: It will still maintain a 35% stake in the new independent, privately held sensor spinoff.
Now, the biggest tech company in Idaho is free to focus all of its assets and efforts on the core operation, which is digital memory of various kinds. And that'll take some doing. The memory industry is falling to pieces around Micron, with some competitors filing for bankruptcy protection and others looking to merge just to increase their chances of survival. Giants like Intel
So thanks for the memories, Micron. But the main memory market hasn't hit rock bottom yet, and I'm not touching this toxic stock until Micron can sell products for more than they cost to make. Spin out and refocus all you want, but it's not good enough for me.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.