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Seagate, a manufacturer of hard drives, announced today that it was approached by a company interested in taking the hard-drive producer private, according to a report by Reuters.
Seagate manufactures hard drives which write data on magnetic platters, a common and cheap storage device made popular by the PC. But with the advent of solid-state drives that store data on memory chips and lack moving parts, old “spin-up” drives like Seagate’s have lost momentum. Solid-state drives are still much more expensive, but are typically less power-hungry and boot more quickly — making them particularly appealing for laptops and gadgets. Apple, for example, used to be a major buyer of conventional hard drives for its iPod music players, most of which now use solid-state memory.
These kinds of shifts in the market are tough for public companies to withstand. So it’s no surprise that this would not be the first time Seagate has been taken private. Silver Lake Partners paid $20 billion to take it private the first time before it went public once again in 2002. Seagate is currently worth about $6 billion based on its market cap on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
After losing about $3.1 billion in its fiscal year ending July 2009, Seagate posted net income of about $1.6 billion for its 2010 fiscal year earlier this summer, according to its most recent 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange commission. Seagate’s revenue was up 16 percent from 2009 to 2010, but still down 10 percent from an all-time high of $12.7 billion in 2008.
Investors loved the news, sending Seagate’s shares on the Nasdaq up 21 percent to $15.33 in extended trading today. Shares of Western Digital, which also produces hard drives, also jumped 9.1 percent to $32.09 after the bell.
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