The company said that it shipped about 58 million hard drives during the quarter, resulting in total sales of at least $3.6 billion, down from $3.7 billion in Q3. There was no information on how many drives were enterprise drives and how many units went into the consumer market, but the shipment number was virtually flat with 57.6 million drives in Q3. Seagate said that it believes it maintained its market share, which is about even with Western Digital and right around the 42 percent mark.
Typically, we would expect a noticeable uptick in shipments in the fourth quarter, which was especially true for Q4 2012, since the PC should have benefited from the launch of Windows 8. Seagate's number suggests that the PC industry may not have seen any improvement in shipments over the third quarter. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, sales were up sharply from 47 million units, which was impacted constrained supply caused by the Thailand flood.
Like Intel, Seagate is a major indicator of the health of the PC market. It's too early to make any conclusions. For now, we'll have to wait for the detailed results set to be announced on January 28, as well as the Q4 performance of Western Digital, which owns 45 percent of the market, according to IHS.
Compared to a pre-flood Q4 2011 unit shipment number of about 49 million units, the Q4 2012 result does not look too bad, but given the fact that Q3 2012 was already underwhelming - Seagate sold almost 66 million units in Q2 - there may be some concern about the overall PC market, the impact of tablets and hard drive shipments into the notebook market.