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SanDisk suffers $1.86 billion loss amid slump

Flash memory chip supplier reports a net loss of $1.86 billion as it takes steps to reduce output and conserve cash. Demand is down.

SanDisk reported a net loss of $1.86 billion, as it takes steps to reduce output and conserve cash amid a collapsing flash memory chip market and weak consumer demand.

The flash memory chip supplier's fourth-quarter net loss was $1.86 billion, or a loss of $8.25 per share, compared to GAAP net income of $106 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same period last year. (GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.)

Charges, including a combined pre-tax goodwill and intangible asset impairment charge of $1.02 billion, due to a sustained decline in SanDisk's market capitalization, totaled $1.91 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, the company said.

Fourth-quarter revenue fell 31 percent to $864 million on a year-over-year basis but rose 5 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis. This beat Wall Street estimates of about $767 million.

Total revenue for fiscal 2008 of $3.35 billion declined 14 percent from $3.90 billion in fiscal 2007.

The GAAP net loss for fiscal 2008 was $2.07 billion, or a loss of $9.19 per share, compared to net income of $219 million, or 93 cents per share in fiscal 2007.

SanDisk, like its U.S. flash memory counterpart Micron Technology, has been reeling from a drop in consumer demand for products that use flash memory and from falling flash chip prices. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company has also been a laggard in the emerging market for solid-state drives, in which companies such as Samsung, Toshiba, and Intel have taken an early lead.

In its earnings reports, SanDisk cited "slower than expected growth in market demand for our products including, for example, our solid-state drives."

Last week, SanDisk said it will transfer 20 percent of its capacity to joint flash memory-manufacturing partner Toshiba for about $890 million. This follows a similar move in October.