It's no secret that the DRAM and NAND flash industries have been in the tank all year courtesy of overcapacity and weakening demand. For the particular parts referenced in the graph below, that's a 71% decline in flash pricing and a 57% decline on the DRAM side. While the pain associated with these prices has been universal, nowhere has it been more acute than in a handful of Taiwanese DRAM manufacturers and Qimonda ( QIM), the Infineon ( IFX) memory spinout.
It's obvious from the data through September 30 in the table below that the Taiwanese group is in trouble.
You'd see the same thing from Qimonda, but they haven't even reported their September quarter. DRAM prices are down another 30% to 50% for the December quarter, so the problems will only be magnified further. The Taiwanese companies do not have a competitive cost structure due to their lagging process technology, hence the very painful gross margins. They have burned through cash and at the same time leveraged their balance sheets. Much of the debt due within a year cannot be paid off with remaining cash nor is there sufficient cash from rations to do the job or finance future capital spending requirements.
Know What You Own: Micron operates in the memory chips industry, and some of the other stocks in its field include SanDisk ( SNDK), Rambus ( RMBS), NetLogic Microsystems ( NETL) and Silicon Storage Technology ( SSTI). For more on the value of knowing what you own, visit TheStreet.com's Investing A-to-Z section.