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5 Reasons to Buy Micron, and 1 Reason to Sell

Micron Technology‘s (NASDAQ: MU) stock rose 3% on March 29 after the memory chipmaker posted its second-quarter earnings report.

Its revenue rose 25% year over year to $7.79 billion, beating analysts’ estimates by $260 million. Its adjusted net income jumped 117% to $2.44 billion, or $2.14 per share — which also cleared expectations by $0.16.

Those headline numbers were impressive, but do they make Micron a compelling investment? Let’s review five reasons to buy the stock — as well as one reason to sell it — to find out.

Sticks of DRAM chips.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Double-digit revenue growth for the foreseeable future

Micron’s 25% revenue growth in the second quarter easily surpassed its previous guidance for 17% to 23% growth. It also represented its eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth.

For the third quarter, it expects its revenue to rise 17% year over year to $8.7 billion, which also exceeded analysts’ expectations for 10% growth.

Analysts had expected Micron’s revenue to grow 17% for the full year and rise another 21% in fiscal 2023 — but the company’s sunny guidance suggests those estimates might be too low.

2. No cyclical slowdown yet

Micron generated 73% of its revenue from DRAM chips during the second quarter. Another 25% came from NAND chips, while the remaining 2% came from other types of memory chips.

Its DRAM revenue rose 2% sequentially and 29% year over year, while its NAND revenue increased 4% sequentially and 19% year over year.

That robust growth — which Micron attributed to the strength of the data center market, robust sales of desktop and enterprise PCs, and the expansion of the automotive and industrial markets — indicates the “super cycle” in chip upgrades across multiple industries is far from over. The global chip shortage, which Micron expects to last until 2023, will likely prolong that cycle with tighter supplies and higher prices.

Micron expects the DRAM and NAND markets to maintain a “healthy supply demand balance” throughout the rest of the year, and that the industry’s progress in resolving non-memory component shortages (which indirectly curb the market’s appetite for memory chips) will buoy its near-term growth.

3. Expanding gross and operating margins

Micron’s adjusted gross margin expanded both sequentially and year over year in the second quarter. Its adjusted operating margin dipped sequentially but also significantly expanded year over year. Let’s dive into the numbers.

Period

Q2 2021

Q1 2022

Q2 2022

Gross margin

32.9%

47%

47.8%

Operating margin

20.2%

35.4%

35.3%

Data source: Micron. Non-GAAP basis.

For the third quarter, Micron expects its adjusted gross margin to rise to about 48% as both its DRAM and NAND gross margins improve sequentially — even as it recognizes a higher mix of lower-margin NAND revenues.

4. Limited exposure to Russia and Ukraine

Over the past month, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the global chip shortage by disrupting supplies of neon gas and other minerals.

But during the conference call, Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the company had “strategically diversified” its supply chain over the past few years and maintained “appropriate inventories of materials and noble gases.” Therefore, it doesn’t anticipate “any negative impact” to its “near-term production volumes” from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Mehrotra said the conflict could still cause some of Micron’s costs to rise as it secures a “supply of certain raw materials that could be at risk.” However, its gross margin forecast for the third quarter strongly suggests it will offset those costs with higher average selling prices.

5. A very attractive valuation

Micron trades at just eight times forward earnings, making it one of the market’s cheapest major semiconductor stocks. Intel trades at 14 times forward earnings, while Qualcomm has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13.

Yet Micron is also growing at a much faster rate than both chipmakers. Analysts expect Micron’s adjusted earnings to grow a whopping 51% this year and increase another 35% in fiscal 2023. Over the next five years, they expect its annual earnings to grow at an average rate of about 25% — which gives it a low PEG ratio of 0.9. Generally speaking, a PEG ratio under 1.0 is considered deeply undervalued.

The one reason to sell Micron: A cyclical slowdown

Micron usually trades at a discount to larger chipmakers like Intel and Qualcomm because its core business is less diversified and more cyclical.

As a pure-play memory chipmaker, Micron’s growth is pinned to the boom and bust cycles of the DRAM and NAND markets. During its last bust in 2019, Micron’s revenue declined year over year for six straight quarters before returning to growth in the third quarter of fiscal 2020. That’s when its current boom cycle started.

It’s unclear when this growth cycle will end. But when it does, it will likely cause Micron to abruptly miss Wall Street’s optimistic forecasts.

The strengths still outweigh the weaknesses

Micron’s growth will eventually decelerate, but the current super cycle of chip upgrades should last for at least another year. Therefore, I firmly believe Micron still has plenty of room to run — since investors seem to be ignoring its obvious strengths and fretting too much over a future slowdown.

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Leo Sun owns Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Intel and Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel and short January 2023 $57.50 puts on Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.