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June 20 (Reuters) - Citigroup downgraded SanDisk Corp SNDK.O, the world's No.1 supplier of flash memory-based data storage cards, to "hold" from "buy," citing slowing demand in Asia and modest embedded handset orders from European companies.
The company's shares, which have shed 29 percent so far this year, fell 8 percent to $21.58 in morning trade on Nasdaq.
Contract pricing weakness ahead in a seasonally strong build period and demand erosion point to a loosening in fundamentals for NAND-based flash memory cards in the second half of the year, which could hurt the company, analyst Craig Ellis said.
The brokerage, which cut its price target to $27 from $35, also lowered its earnings estimates for SanDisk to $1.23 a share from $1.40 for 2008 and to $1.29 a share from $1.73 for 2009. (Reporting by Bijoy Koyitty in Bangalore; Editing by Deepak Kannan)