Western Digital Earnings Call Insights: Macro, Cyclical and Secular, PC Color in Product Mix

On Monday, Western Digital Corporation (NYSE:WDC) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Macro, Cyclical and Secular

Jayson Noland – Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc: First wanted to ask Steve about macro, cyclical, and secular. I know it’s tough to divide that up, Steve, but if you could talk about how much of this is secular versus cyclical assuming the macro comes back or gets better next year, just some more color there.

Stephen D. Milligan – President: Yeah. I mean, Jayson, you kind of hit the nail on the head. I think that it’s a difficult question to answer. I’m we’ve got – as we’ve indicated in our prepared remarks there’s a lot of different factors at play. Clearly, the global macroeconomic environment and it’s not just the IT industry, but there is a lot of headwinds in terms of what’s happening on a global basis. Additionally, the IT segment is not immune to that. So, we’ve seen other announcement come out that I’ve talked about weakness in terms of overall IT spending and then clearly the PC industry is weak and some of that is due to product transitions with Windows 8, but undoubtedly there is an impact as we’re saying, if you want to call it cannibalization, in terms of tablets and smartphones or other kind of connected devices. I think the important thing for to really refer to is when we had our Investor day we talked about a longer-term growth rate in the HDD industry of 3%. When we put that together we attempted as best as possible to estimate the impact of all these different factors and right now, we don’t see a reason to alter that 3% longer term growth rate in terms of number of hard drives sold. Wolfgang, you maintained $10 for the full year. You must be assuming gross margins come up off that 28% level in the second half of the year – fiscal year?

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Wolfgang U. Nickl – EVP and CFO: Yeah Jayson, I mean, $10 is the target and remains the target. Our complete focus is on the items that we control or at least influence. We’re focusing heavily on costs; we’re focusing on OpEx and spending. We somewhat impacted the share count as well and obviously try to optimize volume price mix decision. So, we’re focusing on what we control or influence. We have made an assumption when we originally stated the $10 target in July I believe – yes, in July that we assumed the TAM to increase by 5% and if you do the math it would be a TAM of 630 million units and with the first two quarters at 139 and 140, respectively, we need a bit of an uptick in the second half of the fiscal year to continue to be able to do the target. I believe that we get in the 600 range; it’s very doable and like we said, we focus on the levels that we control and it remains the target and that’s what we are shooting for.

PC Color in Product Mix

Rob Cihra – Evercore Partners: Wondering within the product mix in the quarter if you could give us maybe anymore color both within PC, but even more so I guess on enterprise, how much of that decline in the quarter and the year that you’re expecting again do you think is inventory kind of drawdown versus actual slowdown in demand and again, maybe perhaps more so on the enterprise side given the fact that we kind of already know that PCs have been weak, but any view you have on the enterprise demand what is looking like?

John F. Coyne – CEO: In the enterprise space, there is couple of different dynamics going on. First thing is, if you go back to the floods, really a couple different things there, the – first off the enterprise segment was the one segment that was least impacted from a drive output perspective as it relates to the floods. We are – the various different companies independently did as much we could to protect the supply in that critical part of the market, nevertheless our customers because of concerns about shortages, I would say, quite ahead from a demand perspective in order to protect themselves on that segment. Additionally, if you look at some of the impact of the LTA contracts that were out there, that also resulted in customers purchasing ahead from a supply perspective ahead of the demand and ensure we have seen slowdown in terms of end user demand if you want to refer to it that way. But fundamentally the overall dynamics in the enterprise space remain positive as we’re seeing substantial data growth and build out infrastructures from that perspective. However, in terms of the units that we shipped as an industry and we shipped as a Company we are seeing the impact of that inventory correct roll through the latest quarter and hopefully, we’ll be able to work our through it as we finish out there.

A Closer Look: Western Digital Earnings Cheat Sheet>>