Short-Term Problems for SanDisk in Q4, but Investors Should Play the Long Game

By Markets Fool.com

SanDisk reported its Q4 2014 earnings Wednesday, giving investors numbers that just beat analysts' expectations -- but were unimpressive nonetheless.

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The company posted Q4 revenue of $1.74 billion, up less than 1% year over year. Earlier this month, SanDisk had lowered its Q4 revenue guidance to $1.73 billion, down from a previously expected range of $1.8 billion to $1.85 billion.

Non-GAAP earnings per share came in at $1.30, ahead of the Thomas Reuters analysts' consensus of $1.27, but down about 24% year over year. Meanwhile, net income fell about 25% in Q4 to $294million, down from $390 million year over year.

Part of the problem came from falling gross margins, which came in at 42.6% in the quarter, lower than the company's revised guidance of 45% and far below its previously expected range of 47% to 49%.

SanDisk also reported total revenue for fiscal 2014 of $6.63 billion, up 7% year over year.

Inventory and supply problems
While SanDisk beat (some) analysts' expectations, inventory problems plagued the fourth quarter, and SanDisk didn't shy away from it.

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"We are disappointed with our fourth quarter results, which were affected primarily by supply constraints. We believe that NAND flash industry fundamentals are healthy, and we expect our financial results to improve as we move through 2015,"SanDisk's president and chief executive officer, Sanjay Mehrotra, said in the earnings statement.

On the earnings call, Mehrotrawent on to say that, "We over estimated our ability to service our customers' demand variability with our low levels of inventory creating supply shortfalls in certain products."

But it's not all bad news.

This may ease the pain
Investors should be pleased the company also announced that the SanDisk board authorized an additional $2.5 billion in stock repurchases, bringing the buyback program to a total of $3 billion.

More importantly, the company is fixing its supply problems so it won't see the same thing happen again this year.

"We are taking corrective measures to mitigate the recurrence of these events in the future to ensure that we can consistently meet our customers' expectations. It is clear that one of our top operational priorities for 2015 is to rebuild our inventory levels, which we expect to be restored to normal levels by midyear,"Mehrotra said on the earnings call.

In SanDisk's Q3 earnings article, I wrote that, "investors can likely expect continual fluctuations in the company's memory business, which in turn could affect its stock price."

That's already happened, considering SanDisk's stock is down 18% over the past three weeks, but I think the company's long-term position is still intact -- and now at cheaper prices.

The article Short-Term Problems for SanDisk in Q4, but Investors Should Play the Long Game originally appeared on Fool.com.

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.