Corporate

Samsung says may sell NAND flash chips to Sony

From the Wall Street Journal Eastern Edition | Dec 27, 2005. pg. 1

Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, said Monday that it is in talks with Sony Corp. to supply NAND flash memory chips. “We are talking to major companies including Sony to supply our NAND flash chips, but no details have been decided yet,” said Samsung spokeswoman Lee Eun-Hee. Samsung Electronics shares gained 1.4% to end at 654,000 won ($645.24), after hitting a record 663,000 won intraday. In November, a person familiar with the situation said the South Korean firm will supply NAND chips to Apple Computer Inc. through 2010 in a deal valued at several billion dollars, and more than a quarter of Samsung’s total NAND flash output would go to Apple.

From Reuters | By Kim Yeon-hee; Mon Dec 26, 1:35 AM ET

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005930.KS) said on Monday it may sell NAND flash memory chips to Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp. (6758.T) and others, underpinning expectations for surging demand for the chips.

Samsung shares rose to an all-time high as investors expected these contracts to strengthen the company’s hold on more than half the world’s NAND chip market. For Sony, the possible deal comes as the world’s second-largest consumer electronics maker strives to play catch-up with rivals such as Apple Computer Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL – news) in the portable music market.

NAND memory chips are widely used in music players, digital cameras and mobile phones because they retain data even when the power is shut off.

“Samsung Electronics is considering signing contracts to supply NAND flash chips to major companies, including Sony, but nothing in detail has been decided,” the South Korean firm said in a statement to the Korea Exchange. The statement came in response to a Korea Economic Daily report that quoted an unnamed senior official at Samsung as saying Sony had offered to use Samsung’s NAND flash chips for its MP3 players to be unveiled next year.

The newspaper also quoted the official as saying both companies would probably sign a contract in the first half of next year, adding the contract would exceed Samsung’s sales contract with Apple. The newspaper did not provide a value.

Samsung, which is battling Japanese rival Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) in the NAND flash memory chip market, has been holding down prices to woo more electronics makers to use its chips.

SHARES HIT RECORD

Samsung, the world’s top memory-chip maker, started selling its flash chips in the second half of this year to Apple Computer, the maker of iPod music players.

Explosive demand for NAND chips has been behind a recent rally in Samsung’s share price, along with signs of a rebound in prices of mainstay dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips.

Shares in Samsung, which has a 19 percent weighting on Seoul’s broad stock price index, closed up 1.4 percent at 654,000 won, off a life high of 663,000 hit earlier in the day.

“News of Samsung Electronics’ supply deal with Sony has reinforced growing optimism about bullish demand for NAND flash chips,” said Jae H. Lee, an analyst at Daiwa Securities in Seoul. “Market consensus is that seasonal factors may pressure earnings in the first six months of next year, but profitability will improve in the second half.”

The possible deal with Sony comes after Samsung last month signed to supply flash chips through 2010 to Apple. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660.KS), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC – news), Micron Technology Inc. (NYSE:MU – news) and Toshiba also signed contracts with Apple.

Reflecting booming demand for flash chips, Intel and Micron said last month they would form a company to manufacture NAND chips, with an initial investment of $1.2 billion each.

Micron’s Chief Executive Steve Appleton told a Reuters Summit last month that the industry would move in coming years to using flash memory instead of hard disk drives for primary storage devices in notebook computers.

(Additional reporting by Kim So-young)

($1=116.42 yen)

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