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Trade War Tides Turn: Micron heads back to China, according to data

3 months ago by Jon Marino in Markets

Micron is heading back to China, at the same time its stock is heading back down.

The Idaho-based tech company is rapidly re-scaling jobs in China, potentially a sign that the US-China trade war between Presidents Donald J. Trump and Xi Jinping could come to pass. But when Micron reported earnings Thursday September 26, it revealed disappointing guidance, sending the stock down in after-market trading. 

The end-of-Q2-swoon Micron suffered wiped out all of its gains for the year, but in the time since, the stock has been on the comeback trail. Even factoring in losses Thursday post-session, shares are up nearly 20% in 2019. Job postings for Micron hit their peak in late 2018, after the trade war was already in full swing. But it reduced postings, nearly 50%, before a big spike earlier this month. 

Shortly before Micron decided to increase China job postings, it drastically cut listings in neighboring Taiwan, reducing them by more than 60%. Earlier this year we covered Micron's move to reduce job postings in China - certainly not unique, as the US-China trade war has ratcheted up rhetoric from leaders around the world. But the return to China, is notable - just as much as the proportional decline in job postings in Taiwan preceded Micron's likely change of heart. 

Already, concern is creeping up in markets that the tech sector could be hurt should the US-China trade war linger for longer. Some tech companies have stalled - or reversed - job posting plans and expansion efforts in China.

And while very few tech companies have reversed course and begun hiring more in China, as Micron appears to have done, it is equally noteworthy that Micron's exposure to the Chinese marketplace is perceived to be larger than most Silicon Valley firms, at least among Wall Street analysts.

What remains unclear is what motivated the spike in job postings; was it greed, or was it need? 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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