Writings and observations

As a range of Washington and Oregon communities take a look at their port districts – there’s some nibbling around in Seattle about that – they may want to cast a glance to Astoria, where the local daily is running a strong series of articles about problems at the port district there.

Much of the Astorian is behind a subscriber wall but this piece, the leadoff in the series, was not. It points out, “The Port has been accused of taking unusual risks with public dollars, its executive director, Peter Gearin, is under legal scrutiny for his role in violating a federal dredge permit, Port commissioners have been fingered for profiting from their positions, and several Port employees have left their posts without much explanation.”

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Micron Technology
Micron Technology

If Micron Technology is on your radar screen you have a couple of pieces of information to absorb from this week, both with significant potential reach for Idaho’s largest business and private employer.

One was fairly public (though unreported so far on its own web site): The decision by stockholders to adopt language banning discrimination on basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This was an initiative prompted by the managers of the pension funds of New York City, which are major Micron stockholders, and the proposal was approved by more than 55% of the shares.

Public corporations are not controlled exclusively at their headquarters, and this is certainly an instance of that: Corporate executives had maintained, firmly, that such an explicit policy wasn’t needed because existing corporate policy already covered that ground. Our speculation is that the opposition came from some concern about running afoul of the larger cultural environment in Southwest Idaho where a plurality – but no longer a majority – of the firm’s employees live and work.

The second item makes the matter of external influences even more explicit.

Consider this paragraph from the stock site Seeking Alpha, posted this week: “A company with Micron’s assets, potential, and joint ventures could definitely be a very attractive takeover target for private equity. A leveraged buyout may not be too far off in the distance.”

It also mentioned the idea of a takeover by Intel, since Intel and Micron have a business relationship on several issues.

The attraction, the analyst suggests, lies partly in the corporation’s overall business and financial stance and partly in its involvement in flash memory technology, which is now used heavily in digital cameras, music players and other mostly small devices (such as USB memory sticks). About 20 firms internationally are substantial producers of flash materials and products; Micron is one of the more substantial players.

SeekingAlpha’s analyst writes, “I was recently speaking with a friend who was leaving Arizona and applying for a job at a Micron (MU) / Intel (INTC) project in Utah. He was convinced that hard drives as we know them will soon be outdated and instead we will simply carry flash memory around with us from computer to computer – or in other words, take our own work around with us wherever we go and use public kiosks instead of laptops whenever we travel.”

That could put Micron in a key spot in the tech world and may make it a much bigger player a few years from now. Message for the sharks in the tech pool: Take a run at MU sooner rather than later.

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