WDC Issues Contamination Update

Photo of author in bunny suit holding wafer with Jolly RogerWestern Digital today shared an update on the material contamination that impacted the joint-venture manufacturing facilities that the company shares with Kioxia.

Although the company increased its estimate of the loss from 6.5 exabytes to 7 exabytes, this number is still in the realm of 3.5% of WDC’s annual NAND flash shipments.  It represents about two weeks worth of production.

For those who weren’t aware of this issue, The Memory Guy wrote a post about it on February 10 when the news was first released.  You can see that post by clicking HERE.

WDC’s comments, in a press release, say:

Production at both its Yokkaichi and Kitakami joint venture flash fabrication facilities returned to normal operations in late February 2022. Western Digital’s flash availability will be reduced by approximately 7 exabytes, which will occur predominately in its third and fourth fiscal quarters, as the facilities ramp back to full production output.

WDC’s third quarter ends April 1, and its fourth quarter ends at the end of June.

The company revised its third fiscal quarter guidance to account for the loss.  Although they provided both GAAP and non-GAAP guidance, I’ll share only the non-GAAP here for the sake of simplicity:

 

Previous

Updated

Change

Revenue ($B)

$4.45-$4.65

$4.20-$4.40

-5.5%

Gross Margin

30%-32%

30%-32%

0%

Diluted EPS

$1.50-$1.80

$1.30-$1.60

-11-13%

Diluted Share Count (M)

~318

~316

<1%

It’s interesting that this issue hasn’t popped up at any flash makers other than WDC and Kioxia.  This implies that the joint venture was procuring materials from a source that the others don’t use, or it uses a material that’s uncommon, or that the JV received a bad batch of material while no competitor did.

No matter what, it’s good for purchasers that the WDC/Kioxia JV is the only set of fabs that got hit, since an industry-wide contamination issue would have led to critical NAND shortages.  Even this limited impact is likely to cause prices to increase somewhat over the next few months.

I am sure that the folks who operate the JV fabs put in a tremendous effort to minimize the disruption.  Although we are unlikely to ever learn who these people are, the Memory Guy holds them in high esteem for their work.

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