Hynix Posts Seventh Straight Loss in Q2 but DRAM Prices Rise

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Hynix Semiconductor on Friday reported its seventh straight quarterly loss in the second quarter, but its loss narrowed considerably and sales improved.

The DRAM memory chip maker said prices for DRAM and NAND Flash memory chips rose from the first quarter, but not enough to kick the company back to profitability.

The company's net loss narrowed considerably to 58 billion Korean won (US$46.5 million) from a loss of 708.7 billion won in the second quarter of 2008 and a 1.19 trillion won loss in the first quarter of this year. Still, the second quarter net loss would have been over 422 billion won worse had it not been for gains in foreign exchange and other items. The narrower loss suggests companies may have seen the worst from the current DRAM downturn, which has lasted more than two years.

Global DRAM revenue slumped to an eight year low in the first quarter of this year, according to Gartner. The market researcher said DRAM market revenue fell 41 percent year-on-year to US$3.57 billion in the first quarter, the lowest the industry has seen since the fourth quarter of 2001.

Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest memory chip maker, provided hope for DRAM makers by posting its biggest net profit in over two and a half years during the second quarter on Friday. The company's LCD and mobile phone divisions provided most of the boost, but its chip division returned to profitability after two straight losing quarters. Nearly all of its DRAM rivals have posted continuous losses since the end of 2007 when a chip glut sent prices down, and one company, Qimonda, has already filed for bankruptcy.

Hynix, the world's second largest DRAM maker, said its sales increased quarter on quarter to 1.68 trillion won, but they were still down compared to the second quarter last year, when sales reached 1.80 trillion won.

Other DRAM makers showed improvements recently, but continue to struggle as well.

Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, reported a net loss of US$290 million in its most recent quarter, which ended June 4, compared to a net loss of US$751 million in the previous quarter. Revenue at the company improved to US$1.1 billion from US$993 million in the previous quarter.

Taiwanese DRAM makers will report earnings over the next few weeks, while Japan's Elpida Memory will report on Aug. 4.

The companies have cut back production and closed older factories to shore up the glut in DRAM, but falling demand for the main end product for DRAM, computers, has kept DRAM prices low. Samsung said it expects prices for DRAM and NAND to rise in the current quarter, but noted that some shuttered production lines could come back online and send prices down again.

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