Updated from 4:36 p.m. EDTSeagate Technology ( STX) said fiscal first-quarter net income soared five times higher than the year-ago's level, driven by robust growth in the notebook and consumer electronics markets. But the company failed to deliver first-quarter sales in line with Wall Street estimates and projected December quarter results that fell short of analysts' expectations. The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based hard-drive maker reported first-quarter net income of $272 million , or 54 cents a share, on sales of $2.09 billion, compared with net income of $54 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $1.56 billion in the year-ago quarter. The results for this year include $16 million in stock-based compensation expense and $4 million in restructuring charges. The earnings number matched analysts' estimates gathered by Thomson First Call, but sales fell short of the $2.2 billion consensus estimate. For the December quarter, Seagate expects to report revenue ranging from $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion and diluted earnings per share, excluding expenses associated with noncash stock-based compensation, in the range of 48 cents to 52 cents. With stock-based compensation expected to be approximately $21 million or $0.04 per share, Seagate expects GAAP earnings per share in the range of 44 cents to 48 cents. Analysts had higher hopes for the December quarter, forecasting 56 cents a share on $2.29 billion in sales. Seagate said it shipped 26.8 million disc drives in the quarter, a year-over-year increase of 24% but decline of 2% from the prior quarter. Seagate shipped 3.9 million drives into consumer electronics applications, an increase of 34% from a year ago but decline of 37% from the prior quarter. Shipments into digital video-recorder applications climbed more than 100% from a year ago. Mobile shipments increased 256% from a year ago and 19% from the prior quarter to 2.4 million units.
Seagate said shipments of its 1-inch disc drives, the most widely used in the industry, grew in new applications such as handheld global positioning systems and photo printers. But the company acknowledged "product transitions in some handheld digital music players and gaming applications." In particular, Seagate took a hit this quarter when Apple ( AAPL) replaced its iPod mini music player, which contained hard disk storage, with the even sleeker iPod nano, which uses flash memory-based storage. Shares of Seagate in September fell to as low as $14.61. Seagate shares are off nearly 47% from their value a year ago, compared with a 13.8% increase in the S&P. The stock is so beaten down that it's now trading at 11 times trailing earnings and 8 times forward earnings. By contrast, investors have become bedazzled by the competing flash-storage market, bidding up shares of industry leader SanDisk ( sndk), for instance, so that it's trading at 33 times trailing earnings and nearly 26 times forward earnings. Shares of Seagate closed the regular session down 62 cents, or 4%, at $15.05; shares recently edged up 25 cents to $15.30 in after-hours trading.