Looks like flash memory manufacturer Spansion
A spinoff from a joint venture of Advanced Micro Devices
NOR memory, however, has been losing out to NAND because the latter is both cheaper and writes data to memory much faster, making it popular in devices like USB drives, medical devices, and Apple's
With cell phones increasingly becoming multimedia devices capable of handling pictures, music, and other multimedia data, the need for memory that can quickly write the data is growing. According to market researchers IC Insights, the NAND flash market will grow by 40% in 2006 and have a compounded growth rate of 31% through 2010, when it will reach $33 billion. More companies like Intel
For that reason, Spansion's NOR memory was seen as a losing proposition when it was spun off last year. The market hasn't been kind to the company's stock, either, pricing it at around $12 at the IPO but driving it quickly below the offering price. Today the stock stands at only $14 a share.
However, Spansion has sought to increase its presence by adding value to its memory. As average selling prices declined, Spansion announced that it was adding security features to its memory chip to make it more valuable to cell phone makers; the enhanced chip will create hardware-protected zones of memory, making it harder for hackers to crack than a software-driven system. It also could allow a cell phone to be used as a mobile terminal, encouraging consumers to use their phones to make more financial transactions.
While Spansion's net loss narrowed to $49 million (or $0.38 per share), compared to $86 million (or $1.19 per share), investors also saw their shares diluted by 77% in the intervening year, primarily because of its IPO. Yet as Dan noted, the current quarter's loss included a $6 million charge for stock-based compensation that wasn't present last year, and a $17.3 million charge for early retirement of debt.
Although the sales comparison between this year and last looks robust, Spansion now sells its product directly to AMD's former customers and potential customers not served by Fujitsu; last year, it sold its products exclusively to its parents, who were its distributors. Though total shipments are on the rise, NOR flash faces a declining market. If it's able to deliver on its multichip ORNAND memory package -- a chip said to combine the best features of NOR and NAND flash -- Spansion may yet make an interesting investment.
Despite NAND memory's growing dominance, there does still appear to be a niche for NOR flash, and as the largest provider of such memory, Spansion may be more than just a flash in the pan.
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