SanDisk says supply growth in flash industry easing

Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:03pm EST

* Supply growth moderating - SanDisk CEO

* Balance seen in 2011 after two years of supply shortages

SAN FRANCISCO Feb 24 (Reuters) - SanDisk Corp (SNDK.O) said NAND flash memory supply growth is moderating, and the company sounded confident that the industry will remain in balance amid strong demand.

Flash memory is a commodity product, and SanDisk's fortunes are in large part determined by the equilibrium of supply and demand in the industry and its impact on pricing. [ID:nN2797320]

The overall NAND flash market is expected to grow to roughly $23 billion this year, from less that $20 billion last year.

SanDisk Chief Executive Sanjay Mehrotra said demand for flash will increase by a factor of 10 by 2014, as consumers clamor for smartphones and tablets like Apple's (AAPL.O) iPad, which use flash for storage, as well as newer applications like solid-state drives in personal computers.

Although more flash production capacity is coming online, Mehrotra downplayed the risk that oversupply will hurt prices this year.

"This is my key message regarding supply, that the outlook for supply growth is moderating," Mehrotra said on Thursday at SanDisk's annual meeting for financial analysts.

SanDisk's shares have risen 70 percent over the past year as the NAND flash industry has seen relative price stability.

SanDisk is the No. 1 supplier of flash memory cards sold to consumers at retail. But two-thirds of the company's sales now come from manufacturers that embed flash in their devices.

Shares of Milpitas, California-based SanDisk were up 0.4 percent to $48.31 in early afternoon trading on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)