Why Western Digital Corp. Soared Today

By Markets Fool.com

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What happened?

Shares of Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) jumped as much as 13.9% higher in Wednesday's morning session. Before the opening bell, the data-storage veteran raised its financial guidance targets for the first quarter of fiscal year 2017.

So what?

Western Digital's original first-quarter guidance called for adjusted earnings of roughly $0.88 per share on sales near $4.45 billion. The new bottom-line target points to non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings of approximately $1.03 per share; revenue should stop closer to $4.5 billion. In short, earnings estimates were boosted by 17%, along with a 1% higher revenue target.

The integration of recently acquired solid-state storage specialist SanDisk is running ahead of schedule. Both sales and margins were helped by a surprisingly high-end product mix, allowing Western Digital to bank higher prices per unit sold.

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Now what?

As a Western Digital shareholder myself, I'm obviously thrilled to see strong pricing trends driving solid business results. This guidance update should paint a fairly accurate picture of the underlying business trends, given that we're more than two months into the three-month reporting period.

Archrival Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX) also rose on Western Digital's news, gaining as much as 5.6% on Wednesday morning. Mind you, this may or may not be a correct market reaction. We don't know yet whether Western Digital's improving results were the result of company-specific operating discipline or a positive industrywide trend.

Industry barometers such as sales of PC and server systems are inconclusive. The complete picture is still a few weeks away -- both companies will report their final numbers near the end of October. Stay tuned to get a complete understanding of the storage industry's general health, and which way the balance of power is leaning nowadays.

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Anders Bylund owns shares of Western Digital. The Motley Fool also owns shares of Western Digital. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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