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Micron, Memory Chip Market Struggling

Investors worry about the health of the memory chip industry as more companies in the sector consolidate.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Micron Technology Inc. tumbled to a 15-year low Monday amid investor concerns over the health of the memory chip market.

The company, which makes DRAM chips used in personal computers and NAND chips found in iPods, digital cameras and other portable devices, saw its stock fall 39 cents, or 7.8 percent, to $4.58. Earlier in the session, shares hit a low of $4.55 -- the stock's lowest level since 1993. Shares are down about 30 percent since the beginning of the year.

Micron did not announce any notable news, but investors have been worried about the health of the memory chip market. Last week, for example, SanDisk Corp. posted a surprise second-quarter loss and announced plans to cut capital expenses and inventory growth by delaying investments in certain chip factories.

Germany's Qimonda AG, in which chip maker Infineon Technologies AG owns the majority case, has also been struggling, but the memory chip maker's U.S. traded shares dropped only a penny, to $1.88 on Monday.

This could be due to market concern over consolidation in the memory chip industry, said American Technology Research analyst Doug Freedman. Micron's balance sheet, he said, is in a better shape than the rest of the industry and as such they are seen as an acquirer, not an acquiree, as the sector consolidates.

While Micron's stock declined sharply Monday, Qimonda was relatively flat because investors may think the stock is close to a price it would be bought at. Qimonda's shares are down nearly 74 percent since the beginning of the year.

Infineon, which last week posted a fiscal third-quarter loss largely due to a 411-million-euro ($649.3 million) writedown of its 77.5 percent stake in Qimonda, is preparing for its eventual disposal.

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