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Should NetApp Buy Quantum?

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When backup and archiving storage specialist Quantum (NYSE: QTM  ) elevated COO and former CFO Jon Gacek to the CEO post, it looked like a vote for tighter cost controls. After all, Gacek comes from a heavy financial background, including a three-year stint as a partner at accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But with Quantum's fourth-quarter report in hand, and Gacek's first chance to run an analyst call complete, I have to wonder whether the board didn't want something else out his background.

  • At PWC, Gacek specialized in mergers, buyouts, and acquisitions.
  • His ascendance to Quantum's throne was swiftly followed by a tighter partnership with storage all-rounder NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP  ) . Specifically, NetApp is filling a hole in its product portfolio with Quantum's StorNext data warehousing systems.
  • And here's where the plot thickens: NetApp was already a Quantum partner. Quantum's software is a big part of the deduplication appliances NetApp resells for Fujitsu in Europe, and NetApp actually became a parts supplier to Quantum when it picked up the external storage division of LSI (NYSE: LSI  ) .

Gacek highlighted all of this -- except for his merger expertise, of course -- in the earnings call. The quarter itself was merely decent, with $0.04 of non-GAAP earnings per share on $165 million in revenue, improved by a cautiously optimistic outlook on fiscal year 2012.

But the possibility of a NetApp buyout should make Quantum shareholders drool uncontrollably. NetApp could use the company's data management expertise, doesn't have anything like Quantum's tape-silo solutions, and got into a bidding war with EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) over deduplication specialist Data Domain two years ago.

NetApp is on a spending spree, with billions of dollars still burning a hole in its pocket. Quantum would come cheap, with an enterprise value of just $817 million today. And hey! Quantum's new boss just happens to be an expert at putting deals together. It all makes sense now.

Maybe you arrived at this conclusion before me by keeping a close eye on Quantum news. Adding the stock to your Foolish watchlist would certainly help you do exactly that. Click here to get your watchlist started right now, in case Quantum drops more hints or even announces a final deal.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of EMC. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bioif you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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