Micron Technology Value Stock - Dividend - Research Selection
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Description of the company
Micron Technology, Inc., including its consolidated subsidiaries, is an industry leader in innovative memory and storage solutions. Through our global brands – Micron®, Crucial®, and Ballistix® – our broad portfolio of high-performance memory and storage technologies, including DRAM, NAND, NOR Flash, and 3D XPoint™ memory, is transforming how the world uses information to enrich life. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, our memory and storage solutions enable disruptive trends, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous vehicles in key market segments like cloud, data center, networking, and mobile.
We manufacture our products at our worldwide, wholly-owned and joint venture facilities. In recent years, we have increased our manufacturing scale and product diversity through strategic acquisitions, expansion, and various partnering arrangements.
We make significant investments to develop the proprietary product and process technology, which is implemented in our manufacturing facilities. We generally increase the density per wafer and reduce manufacturing costs of each generation of product through advancements in product and process technology, such as our leading-edge line-width process technology and 3D NAND architecture. We continue to introduce new generations of products that offer improved performance characteristics, including higher data transfer rates, reduced package size, lower power consumption, improved read/write reliability, and increased memory density. Storage products incorporating NAND, a controller, and firmware constitute a significant and increasing portion of our sales. We generally develop firmware and expect to introduce proprietary controllers into our SSDs in 2018. Development of advanced technologies enables us to diversify our product portfolio toward a richer mix of differentiated, high-value solutions and target high-growth markets.
We market our products through our internal sales force, independent sales representatives, and distributors primarily to original equipment manufacturers and retailers located around the world. We face intense competition in the semiconductor memory and storage markets and, in order to remain competitive, we must continuously develop and implement new products and technologies and decrease manufacturing costs. Our success is largely dependent on market acceptance of our diversified portfolio of semiconductor-based memory and storage solutions, efficient utilization of our manufacturing infrastructure, successful ongoing development and integration of advanced product and process technology, return-driven capital spending, and successful R&D investments.
To leverage our significant investments in R&D, we have formed, and may continue to form, strategic joint ventures that allow us to share the costs of developing memory and storage product and process technology with third parties. In addition, from time to time, we also sell and/or license technology to other parties. We continue to pursue additional opportunities to monetize our investment in intellectual property through partnering and other arrangements.
Acquisition of Inotera
Through December 6, 2016, we held a 33% ownership interest in Inotera (now known as MTTW), Nanya and certain of its affiliates held a 32% ownership interest, and the remaining ownership interest was publicly held. On December 6, 2016, we acquired the remaining 67% interest in Inotera and began consolidating Inotera's operating results. Inotera manufactures DRAM products at its 300mm wafer fabrication facility in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, and previously sold such products exclusively to us through supply agreements. The Inotera acquisition enhances our flexibility to drive new technology, optimize the deployment of capital, and adapt our product offerings to changes in market conditions.
We have the following four business units, which are our reportable segments:
Compute and Networking Business Unit ("CNBU"): Includes memory products sold into compute, networking, graphics, and cloud server markets.
Storage Business Unit ("SBU"): Includes memory and storage products sold into enterprise, client, cloud, and removable storage markets. SBU also includes products sold to Intel through our IMFT joint venture.
Mobile Business Unit ("MBU"): Includes memory products sold into smartphone, tablet, and other mobile-device markets.
Embedded Business Unit ("EBU"): Includes memory products sold into automotive, industrial, connected home, and consumer electronics markets.
For more information regarding our segments, see "Part II – Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements – Segment Information."
Our product portfolio of memory and storage solutions is based on our high-performance semiconductor memory and storage technologies, which include DRAM, NAND, 3D XPoint memory, and other technologies. We offer products in various forms, including wafers, components, and modules, as well as SSDs and multiple chip packages that combine our NAND with controllers and firmware.
DRAM products are high-density, low-cost-per-bit, random access memory devices that provide high-speed data storage and retrieval with a variety of performance, pricing, and other characteristics. Sales of DRAM products were 64%, 58%, and 64% of our total net sales in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
Wafer, Component, and Module DRAM: DDR3 and DDR4 DRAM products offer high speed and bandwidth, primarily for use in computers, servers, networking devices, communications equipment, consumer electronics, automotive, and industrial applications. In 2017, we offered DDR4 and DDR3 products in 1Gb to 8Gb densities. Sales of DDR4 products increased significantly in 2017 and we expect further increases in 2018 as DDR4 DRAM replaces DDR3 DRAM products in many applications. Aggregate sales of DDR3 and DDR4 DRAM products were 40%, 31%, and 38% of our total net sales in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
LPDRAM products offer lower power consumption relative to other DRAM products and are used primarily in smartphones, tablets, automotive applications, laptop computers, and other mobile consumer devices that require low power consumption. Aggregate sales of our LPDDR4, LPDDR3, and other versions of LPDRAM products were 18% of our total net sales in each of 2017, 2016, and 2015.
We offer other DRAM products targeted to specialty markets, including DDR2 DRAM, DDR DRAM, GDDR5 and GDDR5X DRAM, SDRAM, and RLDRAM. These products are used in networking devices, servers, consumer electronics, communications equipment, computer peripherals, automotive and industrial applications, and computer memory upgrades.
Other: We offer HMC products, which are semiconductor memory devices where vertical stacks of DRAM die connected using through-silicon-via interconnects are placed above a small, high-speed logic layer.
NAND products are electrically re-writeable, non-volatile semiconductor memory and storage devices that retain content when power is turned off. NAND sales were 32%, 37%, and 33% of our total net sales in 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively. NAND is ideal for mass-storage devices due to its fast erase and write times, high density, and low cost per bit relative to other solid-state memories. NAND-based storage devices are utilized in smartphones, SSDs, tablets, computers, automotive and industrial applications, networking, and other consumer applications. Removable storage devices, such as USB and Flash memory cards, are used with applications such as PCs, digital still cameras, and smartphones. The market for NAND products has grown rapidly and we expect it to continue to grow due to increased demand for these and other embedded and removable storage devices.
Wafer and Component NAND: Our NAND products feature a small cell structure that enables higher densities for demanding applications. We began selling commercial volumes of new products featuring our 3D NAND technology in 2016 and it composed 43% of our total Trade NAND sales in 2017. We expect 3D NAND sales to continue to increase in 2018. 3D NAND stacks layers of data storage cells vertically to create storage devices with higher capacity than competing planar NAND technologies. This enables more storage in a smaller space, bringing significant cost savings, low power usage and high performance to a range of mobile consumer devices as well as the most demanding enterprise deployments. We are currently in production of MLC and TLC versions of 3D NAND and, in 2017, TLC comprised a majority of our 3D NAND production. The significant majority of our 3D NAND products sold in 2017 featured 32 layers and we began ramping next generation 3D NAND products with 64 layers in 2017. We also offer high speed SLC, MLC, and TLC planar NAND products that are compatible with advanced interfaces in 1GB to 128GB densities.
SSDs: SSDs incorporate NAND, a controller, and firmware and are a significant portion of our net sales. We offer client, cloud, and enterprise SSDs which feature higher performance, reduced-power consumption, and enhanced reliability as compared to typical hard disk drives. Our client SSDs are targeted at notebooks, desktops, workstations, and other consumer applications. Increasingly our SSDs are being utilized in large-scale cloud environments. Using our 3D NAND process technology, our SSDs deliver read and write speeds that help improve boot and application load times and deliver higher performance than hard disk drives. Our client SSDs, including our newest line of 3D NAND SSDs, deliver world-class data storage, endurance, power efficiency, reliability, and performance for corporate users and are offered in SATA and PCIe NVMe solutions, with densities up to 2 terabytes, in 2.5-inch and M.2 form factors. Our enterprise SSDs are targeted at server and storage applications and incorporate our Extended Performance and Enhanced Reliability Technology ("XPERT") architecture, which closely incorporates the storage and controller through highly optimized firmware algorithms and hardware enhancements. The end result is a set of market-focused enterprise features that deliver ultra-low latencies, improved data transfer time, power-loss protection, and cost-effectiveness, along with higher capacities and power efficiency. We offer enterprise SSDs with PCIe NVMe, SAS, and SATA interfaces, with capacities up to 3.2 terabytes.
We generally develop firmware and expect to introduce proprietary controllers into our SSDs in 2018, which will enable us to offer additional differentiated storage solutions for our customers. Sales of our client and cloud SSDs increased significantly in 2017, both in aggregate and as a percentage of our overall sales, and we expect this trend to continue over the next several years.
MCPs and Managed NAND: We offer MCP products that combine NAND with LPDRAM to enable small form-factor solutions that combine storage and execution memory. We also offer managed NAND products including e-MMC, UFS, and embedded USB. Our e-MMC products combine NAND with a logic controller that performs media management and Error Code Correction ("ECC"), which provides reduced ECC complexity, better system performance, improved reliability, easy integration, and lower overall system costs. Our e-MCP products combine e-MMC with LPDRAM on the same substrate, which improves overall functionality and performance while simplifying system design. MCP products are used in smartphone, automotive, industrial, and other consumer applications. Our MCP and managed NAND products generally feature proprietary firmware and leverage our expertise in NAND and DRAM technologies.
3D XPoint Memory and Other
3D XPoint Memory: We introduced 3D XPoint technology, a new category of non-volatile memory, in 2015. 3D XPoint memory's innovative, transistor-less, cross point architecture creates a three-dimensional checkerboard where memory cells sit at the intersection of word lines and bit lines, allowing the cells to be addressed individually. As a result, data can be written and read in small sizes, leading to fast and efficient read/write processes. We began producing 3D XPoint memory in 2016 and significantly increased production in 2017.
Other: Other products included primarily NOR Flash, which are electrically re-writeable semiconductor memory devices that offer fast read times and are used in automotive, industrial, connected home, and consumer applications.