Chipmaker Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) is on a tear this year, with shares up almost 50%. The company, which supplies flash memory for computing applications, servers, and smartphone companies such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), has solid prospects ahead. A number of factors show that Micron should be able to sustain its outperformance.
The company is set to report its third-quarter earnings in the last week of June. So now is a good time to take stock of Micron's prospects and see why it may still be a solid buy.
Tremendous growth expected
Analysts are expecting terrific growth in Micron's sales and earnings in the third quarter. Its revenue is expected to jump almost 68% year-over-year to $3.9 billion. Earnings are expected to come in at $0.70 per share, a massive improvement over the $0.04 per share it earned in the year-ago quarter.
Such huge improvements are a result of Micron's acquisition of Elpida, which it completed last year. The acquisition enabled Micron to strengthen its position in the DRAM industry, and also brought a lucrative client in the form of Apple, as Elpida used to supply flash memory for the iPhone.
The scenario in the DRAM and NAND industry is positive, and Micron is slated to benefit from higher pricing and lower cost trends. The company expects DRAM demand to grow at a solid compound annual rate of around 20% to 30% for the next five years. The rapid adoption of mobile DRAM will be the primary driver behind this expected growth.
Mobile DRAM to be driven by Apple
The global mobile DRAM market is on track to grow at an annual rate of 10.4% through 2018. Micron's acquisition of Elpida will help it tap this opportunity, as Apple is preparing to launch the next iPhone. According to reports, Apple will equip the next iPhone with an A8 processor. According to pocketnow.com, Apple's A8 will pack a processor and mobile DRAM on a single system-on-a-chip.
Moreover, the mobile DRAM is expected to be manufactured on a 20-nanometer platform, which is exactly what Micron has been working on right now. The chip maker is transitioning from a 25-nanometer process to a 20-nanometer process in mobile DRAM. It is doing this in order to better serve mobile and server customers. Additionally, the shift to a 20-nm process will lead to lower production costs as the die size will shrink, enhancing Micron's margins.
So Apple's iPhone should prove to be a big catalyst for Micron. According to supply chain estimates, Apple is expected to ship 80 million iPhone 6 units in 2014. As Cupertino ramps up production of the next iPhone, Micron can expect strong orders from its illustrious client. As such, the company seems to be on track to issue a solid outlook for the ongoing quarter and the second half of the year.
A cheap growth stock
Micron's financials are expected to grow at a terrific pace. In addition, the company's outlook is also strong, which is why it should be able to sustain its solid growth momentum. Analysts agree, as they expect Micron's bottom line to grow at an annual rate of almost 20% for the next five years.
Considering such a solid outlook, the stock is a bargain at just 13 times last year's earnings. In addition, its forward P/E is under 10.
Though Micron has crushed the market this year, the company has not yet run out of steam. Trends in the flash memory industry are favorable, while the production ramp of the iPhone 6 will be a big catalyst. These factors could send help Micron grow for more than just the next quarter.