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SanDisk beats estimates; shares drop

The flash memory card maker's revenue and earnings more than double those of a year ago. Shares drop in after-hours trading.

Tech Industry
Flash memory card maker SanDisk reported first-quarter revenue and earnings that doubled those of a year ago, but its shares dropped in after-hours trading.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said revenue for the quarter ended March 28 was up 122 percent to $386.9 million, compared with $174.5 million the same period a year ago. Profits also more than doubled to $63.6 million, or 34 cents per share, compared with $24.9 million, or 17 cents per share, from a year ago.

Analysts were expecting revenue of around $372.4 million and a profit of 32 cents per share, according to Thomson First Call.

Despite the results, SanDisk shares dropped significantly in after-hours trading by about 14 percent, or $4.66 per share, to $27.85. The company had closed the day up about 3 percent, or 98 cents per share, to $32.51.

Traditionally, the first quarter is a slow selling period, but SanDisk's sales remained unchanged from the strong fourth quarter. Both licensing and product sales were up more than 100 percent year over year. However, average price per megabyte sold declined 19 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

"Royalty income significantly exceeded our expectations due to strong sales of flash memory by our licensees in the fourth quarter," Eli Harari, chief executive of SanDisk, said in a statement. "During the first quarter, we introduced a number of important products that are expected to materially contribute to our revenues in 2004 and in future years."

Harari pointed to the company's Shoot and Store consumable flash cards and its TransFlash technology co-developed with Motorola, among other products.

SanDisk benefited greatly from the emergence of digital data devices, especially still cameras, as well as from cell phones and their use of solid-state flash memory, which is portable and is not subject to skipping like hard drives.

SanDisk predicts annual revenue will be between $1.6 billion and $1.8 billion, with second-quarter revenue between $400 million and $420 million. Analysts expect revenue for the second quarter to be around $406.2 million and earnings of about 32 cents per share.

SanDisk had $1.3 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of the first quarter.

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