Tequila Sun-Rise

I think we can stop talking about a turnaround for Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW  ) now. Sure, there may still be a way to go before getting back to those $60 share prices of the tech-bubble days, but the company just showed us that this drink has all the right ingredients already.

Diving through the layers, it starts at the top with a steady sales performance. Not stellar by any means, just as nobody would call orange juice terribly exciting, but steady enough. The deep, dark hues at the bottom of the glass -- or the income statement -- used to be grenadine red. But I suspect it's a house recipe, because these numbers are in the black to the tune of $329 million for the quarter and $473 million for the full year. BlackBerry liqueur, anyone?

Best of all, the cocktail is built around top-notch tequila -- gross margins expanded above expectations, and operating margins doubled management's own, supposedly optimistic, 4% quarterly target. The final result is an unhurried, sweet concoction with enough bite to fend off any remarks about "girly drinks."

CEO Jonathan Schwartz has solid, sincere backing from his ground troops, and Sun's open source moves have made it a coder community darling, too. There's a newfound fiscal discipline at work that keeps the company from chasing low-margin revenues with bargain-basement order pricing. Instead, it favors high-quality contracts based on the right products for the right customer, and quality services.

Enjoy your long drink, Jonathan. You've earned it, and I'd be mighty surprised if you didn't shake up a few more refreshing cocktails over the next few years. Traditional rivals like IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) have been served notice that there's a new hotshot bartender in town -- and he's an old friend.

Drink up, Fool:

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. If you like Tequila Sunrise, you should try a Polar Bear some sweet night among good friends. Heck, mix up a pitcher and go nuts, Arctic style. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will dance on your tongue long after the last sip is gone.


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