I'll go ahead and admit to some gloating. The first thing I blurted out upon seeing the fourth-quarter results from flash-memory firm SanDisk
They could not have been more wrong. Analysts were looking for $0.28 per share on sales of just over $500 million. Instead, the firm booked $0.42 per share on sales of $549 million. Bad analysts! No new Porsche for you this week!
Let's get to those margins, because they make up the most misunderstood part of the SanDisk picture. SanDisk picked a fight with also-ran Lexar
This price war has driven all but that last nail into Lexar's casket, something I have been warning about for quite a while. But analysts and the myopic malingerers on the Street insisted on viewing this situation as some kind of oozing jungle rot that would kill both companies.
Goodness sakes. Turns out the guys who started the price war didn't kill their margins after all. Operating margins ticked up sequentially from last quarter's tough times, though they were still down from last year, when there was no major price war. Oh, and one more thing: Remember those knuckleheaded press reports about SanDisk's profits falling, on a year-over-year basis? Take them with a grain o' salt, too. Last year, SanDisk wasn't yet paying a full tax rate. Now, Uncle Sam's taking his full cut.
SanDisk has provided us with plenty of disappointment over the past few months, but I stuck with it because it was clearly in the driver's seat. It was aiming at taking advantage of its new, higher-density fabrication plants to keep costs low. It could well afford to take some short-term lumps to kill off the competition. But still, upon Lexar's recent warning -- in which the company announced that a slim predicted profit had turned into a huge loss -- the Street and the analysts still refused to see the writing on the wall. SanDisk sold off, and the analysts started moaning about how it would suffer the same fate.
Well, hats off to the amateurs who knew how wrong the Wise men were. I'm happy to point out that even a newcomer to the Fool boards predicted yesterday's final earnings-per-share figure nearly dead on. I'm also happy to see that, in yesterday's conference call, SanDisk told guidance-hungry analysts, "No soup for you!" This brave maneuver may provide for some short-term volatility in the stock, but it tells me that SanDisk has its eyes on the big picture. If the chuckleheads in the halls of Wall Street Wisdom can't get it right from here on out, that's fine with me. It'll just mean more opportunities for cheap shares while SanDisk stays on the road toward becoming the Intel
For related Foolishness:
- Is it time to delete Lexar?
- The new Kodak? It ain't Kodak.
- See why SanDisk stank, but I didn't sell.
- I repeat: Lexar's for pros, but investors got the hose.
Seth Jayson doesn't think all analysts are worthless, but he can point to a few whose talents are better suited to washing his truck than advising investors. At the time of publication, he had shares of SanDisk but no position in any other firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here . Fool disclosure rules are here .