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HDD market soars in 1Q12

Posted: 18 Jun 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HDD? storage market? Thailand flood?

IHS iSuppli has released a report on the global HDD, announcing that the industry achieved record revenue in 1Q12 due to higher average selling prices (ASPs) that more than made up for the wreckage and loss in shipments left by floods in Thailand in October 2011.

HDD revenue for the first quarter was at $9.6 billion, better than the previous $9.3 billion record achieved in 1Q10. The rise in HDD revenue occurred even though shipments during the quarter were only 145 million units, less than the 174 million units shipped in 3Q11, before destructive floods in October damaged a wide swath of HDD fabs located in Thailand.

"Revenue in the first quarter was up because of a rise in HDD average selling prices to approximately $66.28, compared to $51.49 in the third quarter before the flooding," said Fang Zhang, storage analyst at IHS. "The ASP will not return to pre-flood levels in the short term and will stay at elevated levels throughout 2012 and 2013, helping the HDD industry make up for some of the losses following the disaster.

Top players
Among HDD manufacturers, Seagate Technology had the largest share of revenue at 46 percent, followed by Western Digital Corp. at 32 percent, Hitachi Global Storage Technology at 11 percent and Toshiba Corp. also at 11 percent. Hitachi GST was acquired by Western Digital toward the end of the first quarter in March, and these shares for both Western Digital and Hitachi GST represent revenue recognized during the quarter, the period prior to the merger.

No. 1 Seagate's first-quarter revenue of $4.45 billion includes all shipments from the recently acquired hard disk business of Samsung. The market leader in HDD revenue for the past decade, Seagate has also held down the top spot in HDD shipments for the last two quarters, after archrival Western Digital sustained heavy damage in Thailand and lost its pinnacle position. Seagate is likely to maintain its perch at the apex in both revenue and shipments for at least another quarter, IHS predicts. Seagate's HDD shipments, including Samsung's output, amounted to some 60.7 million units in the first quarter.

For Western Digital, the revenue picture brightens if it includes $614 million from Hitachi GST's three-and-a-half-week revenue after the merger between the two was completed in March. Without Hitachi GST's portion, Western Digital's first-quarter revenue would be slightly below its third-quarter, pre-flood level of $2.6 billion. Going forward, Western Digital expects revenue to hover between $4.2 billion and $4.5 billion, including full contribution from Hitachi GST. Western Digital's HDD shipments during first quarter amounted to 44.2 million units, including the Hitachi portion at the time of the merger.

Toshiba's first-quarter revenue of $1.1 billion was, like Western Digital's, below its pre-flood revenue of $1.3 billion in the third quarter. Just recently, Toshiba announced it had completed the exchange of its Thailand manufacturing plant in Pathumani with Western Digital's facility in Prachinburi. Toshiba also has consolidated its HDD production operations in the Philippines and China, reducing scale in each country in order to lower manufacturing costs and improve efficiency. Toshiba, which aims to double its HDD sales to approximately $10.0 billion by 2014, shipped a total of 20.6 million HDD units in the first quarter.

Higher margins
Also contributing to a healthier revenue picture for the HDD industry was a rise in gross margins and operating margins. The higher numbers here were positive indicators of the companies' ability to pay down their fixed costs and were, therefore, reliable barometers of good financial risk. Seagate enjoyed a gross margin of 37 percent in the first quartera company record mainly due to higher ASPsand also saw its operating margin reach 27 percent, up from 19 percent in the fourth quarter. For its part, Western Digital saw gross margin climb to 32 percent, and its operating margin also rose to 18 percent, up from 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Both players expect their gross margins to remain higher in the second quarter, to about 35 percent.

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