February 26, 2010 / 5:46 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-SanDisk raises revenue forecast, shares rise

* Raises Q1 revenue outlook to $925 mln-$1 bln

* Expects to ship 1 bln units over next 2 years

* Shares up almost 2 pct (Recasts with new forecast, adds byline)

By Gabriel Madway

MILPITAS, Calif, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. flash memory maker SanDisk Corp SNDK.O raised its revenue forecast for the first quarter and said the outlook for the industry in the coming years is strong.

SanDisk shares rose nearly 2 percent after rising 2.2 percent in the regular session on Nasdaq.

The company forecast first-quarter revenue of $925 million to $1 billion, up from its previous estimate of $875 million to $950 million. Wall Street was forecasting revenue of $937 million.

The company lifted its non-GAAP gross margin outlook to 34 percent, plus or minus 2 percentage points. It previously forecast a gross margin of 31 percent, plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Chief Financial Officer Judy Bruner said the company feels “fairly comfortable” that 2010 revenue will come in at the high end of its forecasted range of $4 billion to $4.4 billion.

SanDisk Chief Executive Eli Harari said growth in the flash industry as a whole in the next decade will “dwarf” that of the last 10 years, as the mobile Internet becomes ubiquitous.

“What is different really over the next decade is that the scale of the business, I believe, the growth ahead is going to be on a bigger scale,” Harari said at an investor meeting at its headquarters in Milpitas, Calif.

He expects the company to ship more than 1 billion units over the next two years. It shipped 1 billion units over the last three years.

The comments cheered investors who last month were disappointed by the company’s outlook. [ID:nN28107322]

SanDisk — whose rivals include Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Hynix Semiconductor (000660.KS) — is the No. 1 maker of NAND flash memory cards used in devices such as digital cameras.

SanDisk gets about half its revenue selling flash to equipment makers and half selling items like memory cards to customers at retail. SanDisk sells its flash to the top 10 mobile handset makers.

Partly due to demand from Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhone and other smartphones, research group iSuppli expects global NAND flash revenue to rise 34 percent to $18.1 billion in 2010. That compares with a 14.8 percent increase in 2009.

Shares of SanDisk closed at $29.15 on the Nasdaq and rose to $29.70 in extended trading. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Gunna Dickson )

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