For the disk-drive makers of Silicon Valley, it's either the penthouse or the doghouse. On Jan. 21, just a day after Maxtor Chief Executive George Scalise and two other top-ranking executives left, the company announced a $4 million loss on third-quarter sales of $240 million. By contrast, fourth-quarter profits at Conner Peripherals jumped 225% from a year ago, to $47 million, on sales of $418 million. And at Quantum, profits rose 76%, to $18 million, on sales of $232 million.
Maxtor's problems: last June's purchase of ailing MiniScribe, as well as a late start in producing new high-capacity drives. Meanwhile, Quantum and Conner have captured more PC and laptop business--though analysts say they expect growth at those companies to slow in 1991, too.