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Elpida bankruptcy brings unusual stability to DRAM pricing, says an IHS iSuppli

June 28, 2012 // Julien Happich

Elpida bankruptcy brings unusual stability to DRAM pricing, says an IHS iSuppli

Pricing in the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) market has become markedly less volatile since the February bankruptcy of major supplier Elpida Memory Inc., deviating from long-term trends in statistically significant ways, according to an IHS iSuppli Market Brief.

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DRAM pricing appears to have flattened since the announcement by Elpida that it owed billions of dollars in debt, even though the Japanese maker had been the third-largest DRAM supplier in terms of sales even as late as the first quarter this year.

In the 12 week period after Elpida's February 27 announcement, the IHS iSuppli DRAM Price Indexa weighted average of DRAM spot pricestayed within a narrow band, hovering between 235 at the start of the post-announcement period and 243 on May 21. With a starting value of 1,000 at the time it was first published in 2002, the Index gives a measure of how much DRAM prices are dropping.

In comparison to the time above, the spread in the DRAM Index was much larger in a similar 12-week span prior to bankruptcy, ranging from 180 at the beginning of the pre-announcement phase up to 216 at the close of the same period, or a difference of 37 points.

Another measure of DRAM pricing changes, the IHS iSuppli Momentum Indicator, has also stayed at the 50 percent level since the announcement, an indication of neutrality with no upward or downward momentum.

The table below shows both the DRAM price index and Momentum Indicator taken in various times between and after the Elpida eventon December 5, at the beginning of the 12-week period before the announcement; on February 20, one week before the actual bankruptcy notice; on March 5, at the beginning of the period after the announcement; and on May 21, the end of the 12-week period after the bankruptcy filing.

With things still very much up in the air on how events will unfold, industry participants seem to be waiting for some indication of what the resulting industry structure will be like after an Elpida takeover is finalized, said Dee Nguyen, memory analyst at IHS. As a result, the current pricing environment appears to reflect this mood with the DRAM market eerily quiet, accompanied by visibly less pricing volatility atypical of the industry. Clearly then, a direct correlation exists between decreased DRAM pricing volatility and Elpidas announcement given that the current period of flat DRAM pricing occurred right after the bankruptcy notice.

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