August 6, 2010 – Over the past couple weeks, a number of storage vendors reported quarterly earnings (or lack thereof). Overall, the storage industry seems to be on a slow rebound, driven in part by technology refreshes at the server, PC, OS and network levels.
The financial picture started out brightly with a stellar report from Isilon (see “Isilon stock soars on Q2 earnings report”), but after that results were a mixed bag. Here’s a quick recap:
EMULEX (NYSE: ELX)
The numbers: Emulex reported its fourth quarter results yesterday, with net revenues of $103.1 million, an increase of 30% over the same quarter last year and a 1% increase over the previous quarter. Q4 GAAP net loss was $2.5 million, compared to $4.5 million in Q4 of fiscal 2009.
Highlights: President and CEO Jim McCluney highlighted the company’s 10GbE/FCoE technology and design wins, most notably with HP for Emulex’s OneConnect UCNA technology. Emulex also has design wins with Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu and HDS.
Comments: Emulex bet the farm on 10GbE, and with the HP LOM win the company appears to be poised for impressive growth, although the timing of that ramp is unclear. The company will also benefit from the upcoming server upgrade cycle, which should accelerate in the fourth quarter. Emulex’s acquisition of ServerEngines (expensive but necessary) is expected to be finalized at the end of this month.
QLOGIC (NASDAQ: QLGC)
The numbers: For the three months ended June 27, QLogic earned $25.4 million, up 70% percent from $15 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 16% to $142.6 million, vs. $122.8 million a year ago. Analysts were expecting $144.1 million in revenue.
Highlights: Wall Street can be cruel to companies that have a lock on their primary markets, such as QLogic and Emulex in the Fibre Channel HBA space, because of consistently high expectations: Although QLogic’s numbers were quite good, its stock price took a hit on the day of its quarterly earnings announcement, dropping 14% at one point.
Interesting tidbit: The company had $10 million in revenue “from products serving host applications for the fast-growing converged network [FCoE] market.”
Comments: Although QLogic’s future success does in fact depend on its performance in the FCoE/CEE/DCB space, it’s too early to factor FCoE performance into QLogic’s stock performance. Next year will be The Year of FCoE reckoning, as the QLogic-Emulex-Brocade-Broadcom-Intel battle reaches war status.
COMMVAULT (NASDAQ: CVLT)
The numbers: Revenues for CommVault’s first fiscal quarter were $66.3 million, an increase of 10% over Q1 2010 and a decrease of 10% vs. the previous quarter. Net income was $3.5 million, up $1.1 million vs. the same period a year ago.
Highlights: Dell accounted for about 26% of CommVault’s revenue, up 21% year-over-year.
Comments: Some observers predicted that Dell’s recent acquisition of Ocarina Networks (see “Dell to acquire Ocarina for data deduplication”) spelled trouble for CommVault. That assumed that Dell was headed toward a one-size-fits-all approach to data deduplication. I don’t think so. Dell will probably continue with its existing dedupe-related reseller deals (CommVault, Symantec, EMC Data Domain) while leveraging the Ocarina technology in specific markets (e.g., primary storage optimization in image-intensive environments).
One good reason to stick with CommVault’s stock is the upcoming release of Simpana 9, which I understand will include some significant improvements in the areas of deduplication and virtualization.
SYMANTEC (NASDAQ: SYMC)
The numbers: Symantec reported revenue of $1.433 billion in its first fiscal quarter, essentially unchanged from $1.432 billion in last year’s Q1. But the earnings picture was brighter. The company reported net income of $161 million, compared to $74 million in Q1 2009.
Highlights: Revenue for Symantec’s largest business segment – storage and server management – fell 5% year-over-year to $524 million.
Comments: Symantec’s storage revenues should pick up in the next few quarters due to a ramp in sales of its Backup Express 10 and NetBackup 7 software (both of which were introduced early this year) and a new version of Enterprise Vault this quarter.
3PAR (NYSE: PAR)
The numbers: 3PAR’s quarterly revenues were $54.3 million, an increase of 22% vs. $44.5 million in the same period a year ago. GAAP net loss was $1.8 million, virtually identical to the company’s loss in the year earlier quarter.
Highlights: 3PAR president and CEO David Scott emphasized the company’s strengths in “multi-tenant clustering, thin technologies, and autonomic management,” all of which play well in the cloud.
Comments: Not as impressive as Isilon’s quarterly report, but companies such as 3PAR, Isilon and Compellent (see below) are proving that upstarts can put a dent in the armor of the market share leaders by leveraging truly differentiated technology, at least for awhile.
COMPELLENT (NYSE: CML)
The numbers: In its second fiscal quarter ended June 30, Compellent posted record revenue of $36.5 million, a 27% increase over the same quarter in 2009 and a 15% increase over the first quarter of 2010. GAAP net loss was $172,000, and non-GAAP net income was $1.5 million.
Highlights: Compellent claims an installed base of 2,124 customers, an increase of 182 customers vs. the previous quarter. Cash and investments totaled $132 million.
Comments: Compellent’s data movement/tiering/management technology, dubbed Fluid Data, appears to be a primary catalyst behind Compellent’s growth. Pipar Jeffray analysts noted that key risks for Compellent include “reliance on channel partners, limited international exposure, well-capitalized competitors and a challenging macro-economic backdrop.”
STEC (NASDAQ: STEC)
The numbers: Solid-state disk (SSD) specialist STEC posted revenue of $61.3 million in the second quarter. That’s a decrease of 29.1% from the second quarter of 2009, but an increase of 58% from the first quarter of 2010.
Highlights: STEC bounced back from a disappointing first quarter, posting non-GAAP gross profit margin of 42.7% vs. 34.2% in the first quarter, having resolved inventory carryover issues with its largest customer (EMC). For the next quarter, company officials are predicting revenue in the $78 million to $80 million range, indicating a continued resurgence.
Comments: STEC stock has been on a roller-coaster ride, with its 52-week price ranging from $9.47 to $42.50 a share. The company has an early lead in the enterprise SSD market, with design wins at most of the leading disk array vendors. And STEC is still the single source for SSDs at most of its customers. STEC recently introduced MLC SSDs, augmenting its SLC-based SSD product line with lower-cost alternatives. (See “MLC vs. SLC flash for enterprise SSD” on infostor.com.) And the next generation of STEC’s Zeus and Mach SSDs are due later this year, reportedly with 2X the capacity.
HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS (HDS)
Hitachi Ltd. recently reported its Q1FY10 financial results. The company’s HDS operation is not publicly traded, but here’s a recap of HDS’ results. NOTE: The following is excerpted from a report by Aaron C. Rakers, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus.
The numbers: “Consolidated revenues (revenues from HDS + revenues of storage systems sales in Japan) for the first quarter fiscal year 2010 were $804 million, up 13% year on year. This was HDS’ third consecutive record quarter. The first quarter, which ended June 30, was the best Q1 in HDS history, beating the company’s previous best first quarter by $100 million.”
Highlights: Year-over-year revenues grew across all geographies: Americas (+27%), EMEA (+4%), APAC (+19%, excluding Japan domestic sales).
Comments (from Aaron Rakers): “HDS’ Q1FY10 results continue to show increased diversity between hardware, software and services, with solid growth across all areas. Fueled by strong AMS systems sales and increased USP V/VM platform adoption, the company’s hardware revenue was up double digits from Q1FY09. Likewise, software and services revenues grew double digits year-over-year and now account for nearly half of HDS’ total revenue, which is a higher percentage compared to the previous year. The increase in software and services revenue was attributed to increased traction in virtualization software such as Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning. HDS’ file and content portfolio, which includes the Hitachi High-performance NAS Platform and Hitachi Content Platform products, also showed strong year-on-year growth; in fact, the file and content portfolio recorded a 200% increase in FY2009 compared to FY2008.”
EMC breaks Q2 revenue record (blog post, July 21)
NetApp wows Wall Street, doubles quarterly profits (news story, May 26)