Western Digital Slumps but Analysts Warn Stock Not Yet a Buy - TheStreet

More tough times may be ahead for Western Digital's (WDC) - Get Report stock price, with some industry analysts wary of buying shares of the data storage giant on the dip.

Shares of Western Digital slumped 14.43% to $53.19 Thursday as analysts digested the company's lower earnings forecast for its fiscal second quarter, despite an improving market for its key NAND flash products widely used in smartphones and mobile devices.

The decline extended a slide that began late Wednesday after Western Digital let loose with a double shot of bad news with the announcement of CEO Steve Milligan's retirement and a lowered forecast for second-quarter earnings.

Milligan, who led big, industry reshuffling deals like the acquisition of SanDisk, will stay on until a successor is found, the company said.

"The obvious question is whether weakness is a buying opportunity given better NAND conditions," wrote Wedbush analyst Matt Bryson, one of a number of reports on Western Digital surveyed by Bloomberg. "Our answer remains: not yet."

Western Digital is now expecting second-quarter adjusted earnings of 45 cents to 65 cents a share, below the 78-cents-a-share estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

"The pace of improvement is well below what had been anticipated in expectation of a flash market recovery," the Wedbush analyst wrote.

Mark Miller, an analyst at Benchmark, opted to stick with this sell rating on Western Digital's shares, with a price target of $46 a share, while Cowen analyst Karl Ackerman kept his neutral equivalent rating and his $45 a share price target.

"We struggle today to see the cyclical 'whip' in earnings or FCF that would justify this stock to re-rate," the Cowen analyst wrote.

Analysts at Citi and Loop Capital, by contrast, were more sanguine about Western Digital's prospects.

Ananda Baruah, an analyst at Loop Capital, is urging investors to snap up shares of Western Digital, slapping a $75 a share price target, while Jim Silva, a Citi analyst, is sticking with his buy rating.

"Management indicated strong end-market demand," the Citi analyst wrote.

Save 57% during our Halloween Sale. Don't let this market haunt you and join Jim Cramer's Investment Club, Action Alerts PLUS. Click here to sign up!