Kioxia Fire. Not Again!

Toshiba's Fab 5 in YokkaichiKioxia (formerly Toshiba Memory) has announced another setback to its production: there was a fire on January 7 in the Fab 6 facility of its main Yokkaichi campus.

According to a customer letter that was published by TechNews the fire was limited to a single tool and was rapidly extinguished.  Although the news story is in Chinese, a picture of the letter is included, and that letter is in English.

Kioxia seems to be hit with more than its share of issues.  Only a few months ago, last July, there was a brief power outage that Kioxia and its partner WDC expected to result in an important reduction in output.  Recent earnings statements reveal that the reductions were not significant enough to bring the market into balance from its existing oversupplied state.  (Ironically, a number of reporters and investors who contacted me after the July power outage mistakenly referred to it as a fire.)

Before that there was a 2017 ransomware attack, that was expected to result in a loss of 3-6 weeks’ production.  The true impact was small enough that it  didn’t make much difference to the market.

Although certain reports project that this week’s fire will result in shortages ranging from 4-6% of total NAND flash supply, The Memory Guy is inclined to believe that the impact will be much smaller.  The Yokkaichi campus is  configured as  a single mega-fab, with wafers automatically shuttled underground from one building to another.  If a tool in one building stops working, the wafers will simply be shuttled to one of many other equivalent tools either in the same fab or in a neighboring building.

I reached out to the company who very promptly replied that they do not expect for the incident to impact their production plan.

Since the NAND market is still very oversupplied I wouldn’t anticipate any impact from the fire, although we may see a spot market price bounce as the inevitable panic buys occur, as they always do when a piece of bad news is  reported.

Anyone who would like to have this explained to them in depth are welcome to set up a working relationship with my company Objective Analysis.  We specialize in understanding such matters in depth and in explaining current affairs in a way that  meshes with our clients’ objectives.