Micron Technology Inc. (MU), a designer and maker of memory chips, Wednesday reported a narrower fourth-quarter net loss and beat analyst expectations.

Net loss for the quarter ended Aug. 28, was $123 million, or 20 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $586.5 million, or 97 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales for the fourth quarter were $888.5 million, up from $748 million a year ago, the Boise, Idaho-based company said.

Analysts, on average, were expecting Micron to post a net loss of 25 cents a share, according to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

Micron said the average selling price of its primary product in the fourth quarter was down 30 percent from a year ago, but sales volume outpaced production in the fourth quarter, resulting in lower megabit finished goods inventories compared to the prior year-end.

Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel Corp. (INTC), the world's largest chip maker, invested $450 million in Micron in exchange for rights to common stock representing about 5.3 percent of Micron's outstanding common stock, Micron said.

Micron said it will use the money to support its investments in 300 millimeter wafer manufacturing technology and increase production of its high-performance double data rate, or DDR2, memory chips.

The companies also said they will collaborate on the design of future memory technologies.

If Micron fails to meet certain production and processing capacity objectives by 2005 and Micron's stock price is below Intel's purchase price, Micron could be obligated to pay Intel up to $135 million, with some of it payable in stock, the company said.

Shares of Micron closed on the New York Stock Exchange at $14.10, down nearly 4 percent on the day.