SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) reported third-quarter results Wednesday morning, and nobody noticed. It's kind of hard to focus on just another fairly nice quarter when there's a bigger elephant in the room demanding attention, and begging you to forget all about those pesky earnings.
Of course, I'm speaking of the official announcement from hard-drive maker Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC), which is buying SanDisk outright. That $19 billion deal was announced right alongside SanDisk's quarterly report.
We'll get back to the Western Digital news in a minute. First, let me shake that elephant awake for a minute so we can have a look at those results.
In the third quarter, SanDisk's sales shrunk 17% year over year, landing at $1.45 billion. Adjusted earnings decreased 25%, to $1.09 per share. Both of these figures came in above Wall Street's consensus estimates, and by a rather large margin on the bottom line.
SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said that the product mix is shifting in a more cost-effective direction, explaining this period's strong profits, and paving the way for continued success in coming quarters. The company is also pushing some new products through the certification processes of major clients, particularly in the embedded and SSD markets. Again, great news for long-term investors.
But none of that really matters as SanDisk prepares to fold itself into the Western Digital machine. The hard-drive veteran manages an annual revenue stream of $14.6 billion, more than twice as much as SanDisk's sales. The Flash-based storage expert is certainly large enough to move the needle for Western Digital, but the combined company will keep the Western Digital name, and be led by that company's current CEO, Steve Milligan.
Interestingly, this acquisition might also bring the hard-drive industry closer to a complete duopoly. Following several years of intense consolidation, Western Digital butts heads almost exclusively with Seagate Technologies (NASDAQ:STX) on the global stage. The only remaining competitor below these two giants is Toshiba, which serves less than 20% of the global hard-drive market.
But Toshiba has a deep, long-standing business relationship with SanDisk, and the two companies run a significant joint venture for the solid-state market together. When Western Digital's leadership gets comfortable with this new partnership, I wouldn't be surprised to see it develop into yet another hard-drive buyout. If Western Digital doesn't own Toshiba's hard drive operations by 2018, I'll be shocked.
This deal gives Western Digital an instant foothold in the solid-state market, which currently threatens to kill the traditional hard-drive business in the long run. Smart move, and I wonder how Seagate will respond to the evolving industry landscape. Anyhow, that was the real big news for SanDisk investors this Wednesday, overshadowing the earnings report with ease.