Judy Bruner, CFO and executive vice president of administration at SanDisk Corp., a flash memory card manufacturer based in Milpitas, Calif., says while innovation is a key goal for the firm, keeping a high amount of cash on hand is equally important.
“Since we’re capital intensive, having a strong cash position and strong cash flow is very important to us,” said Bruner in an interview with CFO at CFO Publishing’s Women in Finance awards luncheon and working session in May.
The flash memory maker said gross cash and marketable securities increased in the first quarter of 2013 by almost $500 million to nearly $6.2 billion, bringing net cash to over $4.2 billion. Cash flow from operations was $474 million, its highest first quarter cash flow from operations.
That kind of cash flow comes in handy when developing products that, according to Bruner, “are changing the way people work and the way people live.” The firm in May decided to team up with WD, a Western Digital company, to introduce hybrid storage devices that combine flash memory technology from SanDisk and hard drive technology from WD.
SanDisk also launched a $75 million venture capital initiative last year where the firm invests in promising early to mid-stage companies that use or are involved in expanding flash technology and providing new and innovative solutions.
“At SanDisk I am working in an environment where we are on the leading edge in terms of technology. It’s a fast-paced industry and a fast-paced moving company,” she said. The firm remains committed to making products that have longer modules that can fit more flash chips, are thinner in order to support greater design flexibility and that support multiple module sizes across different technologies.
Even through the recession, the firm looked to innovate, said Bruner. “At the time of the recession we were a company with about 2/3 of our sales going through retail channels and we took the opportunity to really go after the smartphone and tablet market, which is through OEM (original equipment manufacturing) channels.”
Today the firm has a growing customer base in OEM, which makes up the majority of its business, and is pushing into B2B enterprise channels. SanDisk has more than half of its sales taking place outside the United States. “The retail business has stayed very stable for us,” she added.