Two top brokerages cut Micron target by 25% ahead of earnings

Wall Street darling Micron drew two big price target cuts Monday morning, with both BMO Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank slashing forecasts and sending shares tumbling in early trading.

Shares of the chipmaker fell 1.7 percent after both Deutsche’s Sidney Ho and BMO’s Ambrish Srivastava highlighted softness in the company’s memory chip pricing.

“While the investment community has been in general wary about NAND pricing for some time, it is the weakness in DRAM pricing, which we believe has caught investors by surprise,” Srivastava told clients in a note, referring to two types of memory chips. “We believe downward estimate revisions for Micron are just beginning. Our estimates remain below those of consensus.”

The BMO analyst cut his price target by 25 percent to $45, implying just 1.5 percent upside over the next year, a far cry from the stock’s 27 percent climb over the last 12 months. Srivastava also reiterated his market perform rating on the company’s shares.

Micron is set to reporting fourth-quarter earnings on Sept. 20.

Shares of both Micron and rival Advanced Micro Devices have traded at unusually high volume lately as investors try to decide what to do with the hot stocks. AMD was the most actively traded stock in the S&P 500 index last Thursday, closing with volume above 300 million shares.

AMD is up 9.4 percent over the past week while Micron is down 1.3 percent.

Deutsche’s Sidney Ho, too, lowered estimates to reflect the recent “deterioration” of memory chip pricing. The brokerage issued earnings per share cuts of 6 percent for the first fiscal quarter of 2019 and a 20 percent cut for the 2019 calendar year.

Ho’s also cut Deutsche’s price target by 25 percent, forecasting that shares will reach $60over the next 12 months. The analyst reiterated the firm’s buy rating; the new target implies 35 percent upside.

“We are also reducing our price target from $80 to $60 to reflect a lower target price-to-book multiple, as it appears we have passed the peak of the current memory cycle,” Ho wrote. “While we do expect MU’s share price to be choppy in the near term, we also see rational capital spending by other memory suppliers leading to quicker stabilization of the market than previous cycles.”

“With the stock currently trading at about 35 percent below our revised price target, we believe risk-reward is attractive,” the analyst added.