Did SanDisk just rain on tech's 2012 parade?

The key technology supplier warns that its upcoming quarterly earnings report won't exactly spark a celebration.

SanDisk

What with sky-is-the-limit predictions very much in vogue -- Apple's shares hitting $1,000 is now the stuff of research reports from serious analysts -- who can't see that these are boom times for tech?

Everyone knows that the party won't last forever. That's the easy part. The hard part is figuring out when to pack up and head out of Dodge.

SanDisk's surprise earnings warning on Tuesday afternoon may be that troubling harbinger for which the worrywarts were all waiting. In advance of the company's official April 19 earnings call, SanDisk said today that "pricing and demand" both were weaker than expected in the just-finished quarter.

Given that we're talking about the top manufacturer of purely flash memory, a company whose products wind up in cameras, smartphones and, yes, Apple components, that doesn't bode well. The company also reduced its revenue guidance to $1.2 billion from $1.3 billion for the quarter that ended April 1. This was an across-the-board horror show, with the company warning that gross margins would drop below "the previously guided range of 39 percent to 42 percent."

Since the earnings season doesn't really get going for another week, it's hard to gauge whether this disaster is a one-off or a signpost of trouble filtering through the tech supply chain.

For what it's worth, SanDisk rival Micron Technology didn't have appreciably better news, when it reported a $0.23 per-share loss for its fiscal quarter last week. And that performance was about 21 percent worse than its previous quarter.

 

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