Memory chipmakers are fighting for their life.
The memory chip market--and industry--is caught in a particularly brutal downward price spiral that is threatening the viability of even the largest players.
"Memory manufacturers who have already been losing money for several quarters are now looking at another six months to a year of absolutely ominous conditions," said Avi Cohen, managing partner at Avian Securities.
Companies are now in survival mode, according to Cohen. "It is a matter of survival and everyone needs to figure out how to stay in business over the next year or how to scavenge something if one (company) decides it cannot survive," said Cohen.
Currently, two major memory chip manufacturers are seeking investment lifelines. Hynix, the world's second largest maker of memory, is trying to scare up cash by seeking buyers for a 36 percent stake in the company. So far, the only likely bidder to emerge is Samsung--which has also made a play for struggling SanDisk, the largest supplier of retail flash memory cards.
The other ailing memory maker is Qimonda AG--an Infineon Technologies subsidiary. Rumors have been rife that the manufacturing assets of the loss-ridden company will be snapped up.
All of this turmoil was underscored this week when Micron Technology, the largest U.S. maker of memory, announced that it had lost $1.6 billion in fiscal 2008.
"The DRAM business--it just doesn't feel like that, for many companies, it's sustainable," said Ron Foster, chief financial officer at Micron, speaking during the company's earnings conference call on Wednesday.