Micron Faces 'Big Correction' in 2019: UBS

Surging profit growth and a better-than-expected sales forecast has led many analysts to gush over Micron Technology Inc.’s (MU) prospects. However, one Wall Street firm believes that a “big correction” could soon be in store for the Boise, Idaho-based company.

In a research note, reported on by Barron’s, UBS’s Timothy Arcuri continued to take a bearish tone on the high-flying chipmaker. After applauding Micron for its “solid execution,” Arcuri warned that risks of a “big correction” for the memory chip market remain on the horizon for next year, prompting him to reiterate his sell rating on the stock and a price target of $42, representing 29% downside from Thursday’s closing price of $59.44.

"2019 has always been the issue and on this front, there was not anything on the call per se to swing the bear or bull case though we do acknowledge that recent Samsung pushouts reduce supply for 2019,” the analyst wrote.

For Arcuri, the trajectory of Micron’s gross margins "remains the biggest tactical question" going into fiscal 2019. The analyst noted that solid demand and cost management of NAND flash chips ought to lift profits in the short-term, but is less positive about the outlook for dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), which accounts for about 71% of Micron’s revenues. “While MU is benefiting from 1x, we still think cost downs could decelerate into F19 as 1Y challenges emerge,” wrote Arcuri.

Other analysts were more bullish about Micron’s prospects, particularly after the company issued better than expected guidance for DRAM and NAND.

JPMorgan and Stifel both claimed that the cloud computing market should continue to drive demand for Micron’s memory chips, according to CNBC.

"Micron continues benefiting from strong cloud data center demand with cloud DRAM revenues up 33% Q/Q," analyst Harlan Sur said in a note to clients Thursday. "In terms of the industry environment, we expect broader memory fundamentals to remain constructive into next year led by continued demand strength in data center."

Stifel analyst Kevin Cassidy made a similar observation: "Cloud spending continued to be a tailwind for the company," he said. "Management believes that improved execution has allowed the company to improve its cloud market share which previously lagged its competitors." (See also: Is Micron Bound to Continue Its Upward Spree?)

JPMorgan raised its price target for Micron shares to $84 from $82, while Stifel increased its own price target to $108 from $106. (See also: Traders Cautious on Micron, JPMorgan Sees 38% Rise.)

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