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The following news story was submitted by Jim Handy of Objective Analysis.
Late Tuesday Micron announced that the company had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Numonyx in an all-stock transaction. Micron will issue 140 million shares of the company's common stock, worth approximately $1.27 billion, to Numonyx shareholders Intel, STMicroelectronics, and Francisco Partners.
Micron Re-Enters NOR
The NOR flash market has been a difficult one for nearly all participants. Leaders Numonyx and Spansion have suffered losses for several years, with Spansion recently turning a profit through a strategy largely focused upon markets for low-density parts used by markets outside of cell handsets, the largest consumer of NOR flash. Micron itself participated in NOR starting in the late 1990s, but abandoned this effort in 2006.
By acquiring Numonyx, Micron is buying the current leader in the market, a position Numonyx is believed to have held for the past two quarters. Numonyx should add roughly $1.5 billion to Micron's revenue stream at today's run rate, increasing the company's share of the semiconductor memory market. Objective Analysis projects for the memory market to explode in 2010, and this is likely to amplify the impact of this acquisition.
What Does Micron Get?
Numonyx is first and foremost a manufacturer of high-density NOR flash. NOR flash has been a large market, but not a profitable one. High-density NOR competes against NAND for camera phone designs, and NAND prices have been depressed for the last three years, dragging NOR prices down with them.
The company has strong technology, a good IP portfolio (which may have strings tied back to parents Intel and ST), one production 200mm fab, and a shell built for a 300mm fab in Sicily.
One key difference between Numonyx and both Spansion and Samsung, the other two competitors in the high-density NOR market, is that Numonyx has been ardently pursuing the phase-change memory (PCM) market, which is expected to take off once NOR flash hits its scaling limit. Interestingly, Numonyx' PCM is licensed from Ovonyx, a company founded by former Micron executive Tyler Lowrey. With the acquisition Micron will gain significant experience in this technology, for which Numonyx had first revenue shipments in late 2008.
What About Hynix?
It is unclear what this means to the Hynix/Numonyx relationship. Numonyx was using Hynix as a NAND and DRAM foundry under a deal in which Numonyx provided flash technology to Hynix. Numonyx also has a 21% stake in a Hynix wafer fab in Wuxi, China. We will be watching this to see what develops.
Executing a Typical Strategy
Micron has a penchant for acquiring companies at a low point in the market using depressed Micron stock to fund the transaction. Perhaps the most notable example is the company's acquisition of Texas Instruments' DRAM business in 1998. Although Intel, STmicroelectronics, and Francisco Partners today will receive $1.27 billion worth of Micron stock at today's prices, this stock is quite likely to increase in value by the end of next year, leading to gains for the parent companies, while allowing Micron to perform the purchase at a relative bargain. This projection is based on Objective Analysis' projection that DRAM prices will behave in their typical manner, remaining roughly level through the end of 2011, when the next overcapacity should begin.
All in all Objective Analysis anticipates that this will be a good deal for both buyer and sellers. This is the kind of deal we expected to see more of during the current downturn, a kind of hallmark for Micron.
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The Amazon Kindle can be credited for a large part of making the eReader market what it is today. After the Kindle became so popular, new readers started popping up in droves. Amazon recently unveiled its financial info for Q4 2009.
The company still won't say exactly how many of the Kindle readers it sold. As close as we get to know how well the Kindle is selling is a vague statement from Jeff Bezos stating, "Millions of people now own Kindles."
I don't get why Amazon won't say how many it sells. It's not like not saying anything will keep other products from coming to the market. I also expect the iPad to give the Kindle a serious challenge and the numbers may change.
IDC has learned through some market research that AMD's fourth quarter financial success isn't only due to Intel's payout settlement of $1.25 Billion, but also thanks to an increase in microprocessor shipments for both the mobile and desktop markets, while Intel saw a drop in both.
Where the same time in 2008 AMD had control of 26% of the desktop microprocessor market, a rise at the end of 2009 saw an almost 3% growth to 28.6%.
While the figures aren't as impressive in the mobile market, AMD's share here went from 10.2% in Q4 2008 to 12.7% at the end of 09; a jump nonetheless. No doubt their quite capable little Athlon Neo has given them a helping hand here with it being found in a mass of ultraportables recently.
Apple is one of the companies that technology fans either love or hate. There is no denying that Apple makes some of the most compelling products in the tech world from notebooks to desktops and the iPhone its products are very popular.
Apple has released its Q1 earnings report with revenue of $15.68 billion for the quarter. Gross margin for the company was 40.9%. Over the quarter, Apple sold 3.36 million Mac computers, up 33% from the same quarter of the previous year. iPhone sales increased by 100% for the quarter.
In all 8.7 million iPhones were sold. Apple reports that it sold 21 million iPods. Despite the huge number of iPods sold, that number is down 8% from the same quarter of the previous year. Steve Jobs says Apple is now a $50 billion company.
After experiencing several years of financial losses, things are looking up for AMD once again with reported revenues of $1.65 Billion in Q4'2009 and net income of $1.18 Billion.
Had it not been for a $1.25 Billion settlement payment received due to an antitrust dispute with direct competitor Intel, we would have witnessed yet another reported loss. AMD's CEO Dirk Meyer is all smiles for 2010; "We enter 2010 having completed the transition to a fabless business model, reached a historic antitrust settlement, and made significant progress strengthening our balance sheet."
However, even with Intel's $1.25 Billion payment to AMD, it too reported revenues up by 28% for Q4'2009, reaching 10.6 Billion and a net profit of $2.3 Billion.
After a long drawn out litigation process concerning royalty payments, Samsung and Rambus have finally reached settlement this week in which Samsung has agreed to pay Rambus $900 Million. The $900M financial settlement is based on the following conditions :-
A one-time payment to Rambus of $200 million
Future payments of about $25 million per quarter for the next five years
Samsung's purchase of $200 million worth of Rambus stock
Under the agreement there will also be new technology collaboration between the two companies. Samsung has said that the settlement doesn't put a huge dint in its earnings as it had already set aside provisions and its shares were up 1.1% in midday trading in Seoul on Wednesday.
The Amazon Kindle is one of the most popular eReaders on the market and sold like crazy over the holiday season. Right now, the only type of content available on the device are books and magazines. Amazon is looking to add active content through.
Amazon has unveiled a new Kindle Development Kit (KDK) that will launch in limited beta next month. A limited number of developers will be allowed into the beta program to start with. They will be allowed to download the KDK to work on active apps for the reader.
The KDK includes code snippets, documents, and a simulator that can simulate both the Kindle and Kindle DX on Mac or PC platforms. Active content is expected later this year and will include games and other content types.
Word has come about that ATIC (Advanced Technology Investment Company) based in Abu Dhabi is looking to take full ownership of GlobalFoundries, whereby currently it is shared by both ATIC and AMD with AMD owning 34.2% of the company.
AMD are said to be very content with this as they are looking to leave the manufacturing business and stick to being a fab-less design company. Selling off part or perhaps all of its stake in GlobalFoundries will allow AMD to financially blossom by paying off remaining debts and invest more in R&D.
While no official announcement about the news has surfaced yet, we expect we'll be hearing more about this in the coming months.
Toshiba doesn't care that CES is only a week or so behind us, the company is unveiling some new computers that it is aiming at the business user. However, one of them sounds suspiciously like a gaming notebook having a mid-life crisis and looking for a new gig.
The first of the new notebooks is the Tecra A11. The machine has a 15.6-inch screen and uses a variety of new Intel processors for 2010. The machine can also be optioned with NVIDIA discrete graphics with pricing starting at $879. The Qosmio X500 is at its core a gaming notebook aimed at the user looking for a mobile workstation.
The machine has a Core i7-720QM processor, NVIDIA GTS 360M graphics, 8GB of RAM, and an 18.4-inch LCD. The beast even has Blu-ray with prices starting at $1549. The final two machines are the Satellite Pro L450 and L500 notebooks. The machines can be had with Intel Core 2 Duo processors and sport 15.6-inch LCDs. Windows XP or Windows 7 are the OS choices with pricing starting at $529 to $649.
Major semiconductor foundry TSMC is glad to report today that all prior issues regarding chips built on a 40nm process have now been resolved and yield rates are far improved. Mark Liu who is the senior VP of Operations has stated that the quality of its 40 nm node production is now almost as fine as its 65 nm one.
As TSMC is the supplier for both NVIDIA and AMD's graphics cards, this is certainly good news with AMD having been using 40 nm GPUs since its pre-gen HD 4770 and NVIDIA set to release its first billion transistor 40nm GPU in the GF100 towards the end of this quarter.
Further to the above good news, TSMC has also just finished construction of another new factory situated at the Hsinchu Science Park (HSP) in Taiwan; this a part of the company's Fab 12. The new factory is for the purposes of 28 nm volume production by as early as Q3 of this year.