Western Digital net jumps but flood worries loom

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ? Western Digital Corp. said Wednesday that its fiscal first quarter earnings rose 21 percent and revenue rose 12 percent as the maker of hard drives topped Wall Street’s forecasts despite a sluggish personal-computer market.

The stock rose 41 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $24.85 in extended trading, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the sharp drop in price that Western Digital’s shares have endured since the company revealed last week that the deadly flooding in Thailand has temporarily shut its factories there.

Before the results were announced, Western Digital shares had fallen by 15 percent over the past week, including a 9 percent drop in Wednesday’s regular trading session. The computer market is bracing for a serious disruption from the flooding, as hard drives are a critical component of the machines, and roughly a quarter of them come from Thailand.

China is the biggest producer of computer hard drives, and some analysts say the impact will be muted by backup plans the industry has in place for natural disasters.

Western Digital said after the market closed that its net income was $239 million, or $1.01 per share, versus $197 million, or 84 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, the company earned $1.10 per share. The average analyst forecast was for adjusted earnings of 96 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $2.70 billion, up from $2.40 billion last year. Analysts expected $2.49 billion in the latest quarter.

A key rival, Seagate Technology PLC, is scheduled to report its latest quarterly results on Thursday. Seagate says that its Thailand factories are currently operational but that there could be a component shortage that constrains the supply of hard drives.