Investors will look for signs that chipmaker Micron (MU) - Get Report hit bottom in the fiscal third quarter and will show improvements toward the end of the year, when the company reports earnings after the market close on Thursday.
CEO Mark Durcan will also have the opportunity to explain why Micron delayed the closing of its purchase of the remaining 67% of chip technology firm Inotera for $3.2 billion, net of cash on the target's balance sheet.
Wall Street expects Micron to post a loss of 10 cents per share for the fiscal third quarter ended in May, according to FactSet, from revenues of $2.96 billion.
Micron makes dynamic RAM used in computers and mobile phones to automotive and industrial applications, flash memory and other products. The company said in December that it would purchase the remaining stake in Taiwanese company Inotera, which makes dynamic RAM chips for Micron.
Like many semiconductor companies, a slump in prices and demand has hit Micron. Analysts suggest that the second half of the year could mark a turning point.
"[W]e believe we are at the cusp of a long-awaited improvement in pricing fundamentals, due in part to seasonal improvement in demand amid continued supply discipline," JPMorgan analyst Harlan Sur wrote in a report. Sur expects a loss of 8 cents per share in the fiscal third quarter, on revenues of $2.95 billion.
The fiscal third quarter will "mark the bottom," Sur suggested, with revenue rising to $3.17 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter.
Micron previously expected to close the Inotera purchase by mid-July, but said in June that it would delay the closing.
The impact of new debt and earnings dilution related to the Inotera purchase and continued challenges in the PC market led Deutsche Bank analyst Sidney Ho to reduce forecasts for Micron in early June. Ho cut his earnings forecast from a loss of 9 cents per share to a loss of 14 cents per share. In the fiscal fourth quarter, the analyst anticipates a loss of 1 cent per share, while he previously expected earnings of 4 cents per share.
John Pitzer of Credit Suisse deemed it "unlikely" that Micron would guide investors to expect a drop earnings and revenues from the fiscal third quarter to the fourth.
Wall Street may look beyond third quarter weakness, if the future is brighter -- or at least less cloudy.
"We expect moderate demand improvement in [the second half of 2016] to slow or halt price declines," Pacific Crest analyst Weston Twigg wrote, "though we remain concerned about NAND [flash] overcapacity in 2017."
The analyst calls for a loss of 9 cents per share in the fourth quarter, but a profit of 2 cents per share in the fourth quarter.