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Micron posts a smaller loss than expected

Loss of just 36¢ a share well off the predicted 53¢

SHARE Micron posts a smaller loss than expected

Normally, a $215 million quarterly loss would seem disastrous.

But for Boise-based Micron, the loss was nearly one-third of the loss recorded in the previous quarter and far better than Wall Street analysts had predicted.

The semiconductor manufacturer, which has a chip-testing facility in Lehi, on Wednesday said the loss, equating to 36 cents per share, came during the quarter ended May 29.

In the previous quarter, Micron reported a loss of $619.2 million, and a consensus prediction by industry analysts for the most recent quarter was a loss of 53 cents per share.

A year ago, the company's loss was $24.2 million, or 4 cents per share.

Sales for the third fiscal quarter totaled $733 million, compared to $771.2 million a year ago and $785 million in the previous quarter, with volume increases through better process technology being more than offset by a 15 percent drop in average selling prices, the company said. That caused the company to take a charge to costs of goods sold totaling $15 million — better than $197 million in the prior quarter — to write down work in process and finished goods inventories to their estimated market values.

Without the inventory write-down and restructure charges, the company's operating loss would have been $343 million in the most recent quarter and $386 million in the previous one.

For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company's net loss was $1.15 billion, or $1.90 per share, on sales of $2.2 billion. That compares with a loss of $320.5 million, or 53 cents per share, on sales of $1.8 billion a year ago.

The quarter's financial figures were announced after the markets closed Wednesday. Micron stock rose 3 cents to close at $13.08 during the day. During the past year, the price has ranged from $6.60 to $25.14.

The earnings report came a day after the U.S. Department of Commerce found Micron and other American chipmakers were subjected to unfair South Korean government subsidies of competitors Hynix and Samsung. It ordered a nearly 45 percent tariff on Hynix imports and a tariff of less than 1 percent against Samsung.

The depressed international chip market forced Micron to lay off 10 percent of its global work force last winter, including 1,100 workers in Boise.

The company said average selling prices dropped 15 percent during the quarter in what corporate officials said reflected the impact of subsidized South Korean products on the market. Demand for electronics products was relatively modest, officials said.

But that was partially offset by significantly improved manufacturing costs, in part due to the savings from last winter's restructuring. Production overall was also up from the sluggish winter quarter by about 20 percent.

"We're starting to see some signs of life in PC demand," said Michael Sadler, vice president of worldwide sales.

He called it a seasonal uptick but conceded that "this gives us reason for near-term optimism."

Contributing: The Associated Press

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com