Citigroup Ups SanDisk to Buy from Hold

Sees strong demand for the data storage that SanDisk sells

Citigroup upgraded the consumer electronics and flash storage company SanDisk (SNDK ) to buy from hold, explaining that there is strong demand for NAND flash memory chips.

NAND flash memory chips use flash storage, which enables products to store data even after their power is turned off. Analyst Craig Ellis says he's already been positive on SanDisk's long-term fundamental business prospects, but now he has greater confidence that strong NAND demand will press SanDisk's supply capabilities. He sees this taking place in spite of SanDisk's new rivals such as Hynix and INTEL+MICRON.

Ellis believes SanDisk will benefit by taking market share in the memory card and USB drive markets, while it strengthens its position as the market's price-setter and grows internationally. As a result, Ellis raises his above-consensus earnings per share estimates as follows: $1.94 in 2005 to $1.99 and $2.67 in 2006 to $2.75. He also increases his $57 target to $69.

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