Any doubts about Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) stock’s ability to deliver the terrific upside that Wall Street expects it to deliver over the coming year were put to rest after its fiscal 2021 third-quarter earnings report.
The memory specialist handsomely crushed analysts’ expectations, issued solid guidance, and pointed out that the memory market will continue to remain in good health on account of robust demand. In short, Micron hinted that its days of terrific growth are here to stay. Let’s see why that may be the case, and why you should be buying the stock if you haven’t already.
Micron Technology delivers outstanding growth once again
Micron Technology’s Q3 revenue shot up 36.5% year over year to $7.4 billion, which easily exceeded the higher end of the company’s original guidance of $7.3 billion. The chipmaker’s non-GAAP earnings jumped to $1.88 per share from the prior-year period’s figure of $0.82, which was much higher than the midpoint of its original guidance of $1.62 per share.
Wall Street was expecting Micron to deliver $1.72 per share in earnings on $7.23 billion in revenue, but a combination of strong memory demand and pricing helped it clear those estimates. For instance, Micron’s DRAM (dynamic random access memory) revenue shot up 23% quarter over quarter and 52% year over year. The segment produced 73% of Micron’s total revenue and benefited from a 20% quarter-over-quarter jump in the average selling price (ASP) and a low-single-digit increase in bit shipments.
The NAND flash business that accounted for 24% of Micron’s total revenue also reported robust growth. The segment’s revenue increased 10% quarter over quarter and 9% year over year, driven by a high-single-digit percentage bump in the ASP and a low-single-digit percentage increase in bit shipments. The improved pricing also gave Micron’s gross margin a big shot in the arm. Its adjusted gross margin jumped from 33.2% in the year-ago quarter to 42.9% in Q3.
Micron’s fourth-quarter guidance is also impressive. The company anticipates $8.2 billion in revenue at the midpoint of its guidance range, while adjusted earnings are expected at $2.30 per share. Micron forecasts 47% in adjusted gross margin this quarter, give or take one percentage point. The company’s non-GAAP gross margin stood at 34.9% in the prior-year period, while earnings came in at $1.08 per share.
So, Micron’s earnings are on track to more than double this quarter on the back of a 35% spike in the top line as compared to the year-ago period. However, the company can exceed expectations once again, as memory demand from its end markets isn’t going to slow down any time soon.
The big picture points toward sustained levels of high growth
Micron Technology divides its business into five end markets — data center, personal computers (PC), graphics, mobile, and auto. Memory consumption in all these end markets is rising thanks to multiple factors.
For instance, the data center market’s appetite for faster DRAM and solid-state drives (SSDs) is turning out to be a tailwind for Micron. The company says that “new CPUs featuring more memory channels will accelerate server memory demand starting later this year and continuing into CY22.” Additionally, the SSD market is expected to clock nearly 15% annual growth through 2026, according to a third-party report.
The increasing demand for PCs is also giving the SSD market a boost, which isn’t surprising as the market’s coronavirus-related momentum won’t be fading away any time soon. Meanwhile, the demand for specialty DRAM used in graphics cards is likely to keep moving north, as the likes of NVIDIA and AMD are trying to boost production to meet the tremendous demand from gamers.
The advent of 5G smartphones, on the other hand, has supercharged Micron’s mobile business. Its mobile business unit recorded 31% year-over-year growth last quarter to $2 billion. The segment’s hot growth could last for an exceptionally long time considering that 5G smartphone sales are set to fly higher.
And finally, Micron recorded 64% year-over-year growth in the embedded business to a record $1.1 billion. The chipmaker credits this impressive growth to record revenue in the automotive and industrial markets, a trend that’s likely to continue in the future. That’s because automotive memory demand is reportedly growing at 24% a year as per third-party estimates, while increasing semiconductor deployment in the industrial space will continue to remain a tailwind.
These multiple tailwinds are the reason why Micron sees DRAM bit demand growth of mid-to-high teens in the long run. The NAND demand forecast is brighter with an estimated long-term CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 30%. Not surprisingly, analysts expect Micron’s earnings to grow at an annual rate of over 63% for the next five years, making it a top growth stock to buy right now, especially considering that it trades at just 8.3 times forward earnings as compared to the five-year average multiple of 11.2 times.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.