While analysts are generally gloomy on the prospects of a decent pickup in PC sales this year, some money managers seem a little more hopeful, judging from their investments. A look at buys and sales of memory-maker
underscores the confusion. Micron sells a type of memory known as dynamic random access memory (DRAM), the majority of which is sold into computers.
According to filings with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, a major investor in Micron just reported that it trimmed its holdings over the past month. But meanwhile, two other money managers have dramatically bulked up their holdings in the company.
Micron hasn't made a profit in two years. So it's all the more striking that managers for the two leading U.S. mutual fund companies,
, have quietly been snapping up shares, likely aiming to jump in when sentiment on the company is at its bleakest.
Shares of Micron have continued to suffer from weak DRAM prices and diminished expectations for PC revenue growth. The company said in February it would lay off 10% of its staff. Many analysts and investment banks have ratcheted down their sales forecast to the midsingle digits for this year.
Perhaps losing patience with the company's outlook, a French subsidiary of Alliance Capital Management said in documents filed Friday that it has cut its stake in Micron to 5.7%, or 34.5 million shares, as of March 28. The firm had owned 6.6% of the company, or 40 million shares as of its most recent filing on Feb. 12.
But the stock sale follows close behind a similar-sized purchase of 4.8 million shares by Primecap Management, which manages a handful of Vanguard funds. Primecap boosted its stake in Micron to 6.4%, or 39 million shares Feb. 7, up from 5.6% or 34 million shares on Jan. 14.
Still more striking is the massive purchase by Fidelity, which took place between the second half of last year and into January 2003. As of Jan. 10, the mutual fund giant owned nearly 15% of Micron, or 89.2 million shares, up from 9.1%, or 54.6 million shares, as of June 6, 2002.
All three money managers have a policy of declining to comment on stocks in their portfolios.
On its most recent earnings call on March 20, Micron offered a little bit of sunlight, posting an upside revenue surprise and saying DRAM prices have begun to stabilize. Executives also claimed the company took market share in the quarter, reversing a trend of share loss seen in 2002.