Western Digital fiscal Q1 revenue, EPS top expectations thanks to work from home, shares jump

The drive maker forecast revenue this quarter slightly higher than Wall Street’s expectations.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Senior Contributing Writer

Shares of disk drive and NAND flash memory chip maker Western Digital rose by 3% in late trading, after the company reported fiscal first-quarter revenue and profit that topped analysts' expectations, and forecast revenue this quarter just slightly ahead of consensus. 

The quarter saw strong consumer sales, but a fall-off in data center and enterprise demand.

CEO David Goeckeler said he was "pleased" with the results. Western is "still managing through macro uncertainty," said Goeckeler. But he cited strong demand in retail sales of drives, "driven by favorable macro and market dynamics, as well as the brand recognition of our products."

Goeckeler said the company remains focused "on the massive market opportunity for data storage technology that stems from the ongoing expansion of cloud infrastructure connected to intelligent endpoints and powered by high-performance networks."

Western's revenue in the three months ended in September declined by 3%, year over year, to $3.92 billion, yielding EPS of 65 cents. Analyst had been modeling $3.83 billion and 55 cents per share. 

For the current quarter, Western foresees revenue in a range of $3.75 billion to $3.95 billion, which, at the mid-point, is higher than consensus for $3.83 billion. EPS this quarter is seen in a range of 40 cents to 60 cents, versus consensus for 64 cents. 

Sales of client devices, Western's designation for retail drive products, jumped 20%. Conversely, drives and chips sold into data centers dropped by 26%.

Client devices benefitted from work from home, said Western:

In Client Devices, Western Digital's industry leading client SSD solutions for notebook and desktops benefitted from the acceleration of work from home and remote learning trends. Gaming experienced significant growth as upcoming game consoles transition from hard drive-based storage solutions to flash, powering a more real-time, immersive gaming experience. In addition, mobile revenue more than doubled, driven by recent 5G phone launches and a broadening of end customers within China.

By contrast, buying habits in the quarter have hurt data center sales:

In Data Center Devices & Solutions, both Capacity Enterprise hard drive and Enterprise SSD (eSSD) demand were negatively impacted by shifts in customer ordering patterns. Important product transitions in hard drive and flash-based storage solutions also impacted demand trends as customers are still ramping up on these newer products.

Western stock rose 3% in late trading to $40.

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