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The Deal: OCZ's Going Nowhere Fast

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- If it were only about making computers rev faster, then OCZ Technology Group (OCZ) wouldn't be facing its current problems.

But as the publicly listed solid state drive manufacturer continues to promise, and fail, to produce financial returns, industry watchers wonder if a quiet sale or restructuring process might not be going on, especially in a sector that has seen recent consolidation.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company is considered a leader in consumer SSD products beloved especially of the gaming world--the company's name is a mash-up of overclocking, which means resetting a computer's clock to run faster so that all those beautiful game images that take up so much memory render more quickly. And its 2011 $32.3 million stock and cash acquisition of South Korea-headquartered Indilinx, which manufactures the controller component of the SSD, gave OCZ an ability to control the quality and durability of its products, according to Jim Handy, a director with semiconductor market research firm Objective Analysis.

"People spend gobs of money to make their computers run faster," he says. "So that's what OCZ caters to."

But so do scores of other small companies, Handy explains. "Most of them try to differentiate on cost. Anything that OCZ produced that went head-to-head against cost-concerned companies, they would lose money."

And lose money the company does, turning in net losses every quarter, except one, since it went public on the Nasdaq in 2010. (The company had previously listed on the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market in 2002.)

For a while, the company's financial health seemed to be improving. Under the leadership of its founder and CEO, Ryan Petersen, OCZ had managed to finally cut its year-over-year losses in 2012, down 41% to a loss of $17.7 million in its fiscal year ending in February, on revenue that had shot up 92% from $190.1 million to $365.8 million.

Fiscal 2013's first quarter revenue was reported at $113.6 million, up from $73.8 million year-over-year. And the company said it expected the second quarter to come in between $130 million and $140 million.

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