Western Digital CEO Milligan to retire, fiscal Q1 better than expected

The storage giant is starting a search for a new CEO. In the meantime, Western Digital indicated that the worst is over for storage pricing and demand.

Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan plans to retire and step down when the company finds a new leader. A search is underway.

Milligan, who has been CEO of the company since 2013, will stay until a successor has been identified and appointed and then remain as an advisor until Sept. 2020. Milligan led Western Digital through a series of peaks and valleys in storage demand and transformed the company through the acquisitions of Sandisk, Virident and Tegile.

The search for a new CEO comes as Western Digital reported a better than expected first quarter and a weak earnings outlook for the second. Western Digital reported a fiscal first quarter net loss of $276 million, or 93 cents a share, on revenue of $4 billon. Non-GAAP earnings were 34 cents a share.

Wall Street was expecting Western Digital to report fiscal first quarter non-GAAP earnings of 30 cents a share on revenue of $3.93 billion.

In the same quarter a year ago, Western Digital reported net income of $511 million, or $1.71 a share, on revenue of $5 billion.

For the second quarter, Western Digital projected revenue to be between $4.1 billion and $4.3 billion with non-GAAP earnings per share of 45 cents a share to 65 cents a share.  Wall Street was expecting revenue of $4.22 billion and non-GAAP earnings of 75 cents a share.

Overall, Milligan said fiscal 2020 was "off to a good start" with strength in enterprise drives for data centers. "The overall demand environment remains solid. We continue to believe the flash industry has passed a cyclical trough, with improving trends across our flash product portfolio," said Milligan.