Is EMC Eeeeewwww?

I feel just dandy today. Information technology, the market that I follow most closely, is taking an absolute beating. Witness EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) : The storage software and hardware maker has seen its stock cut by roughly 4% since reaffirming guidance yesterday.

What gives? Part of the problem is panic-selling in the market -- the Dow is down 400 points this week. The other part appears to be psychologically fragile investors. EMC chief financial officer Bill Teuber reportedly qualified his assurance to analysts that the company would meet its prior estimates for the second quarter and full year. The exact quote -- "yet we have a lot to do" -- left analysts and investors wondering.

And me? I'm scratching my head, too. All I can think of is fellow Fool Stephen Simpson's analysis after April's earnings report. As he pointed out then, the threats facing the company are no different from those it has faced for decades. Yet sales growth remains in the double digits, and the firm has roughly $7 billion in cash on hand.

What's more, EMC is putting a portion of its considerable resources to work. Yesterday, it announced a deal to purchase privately held nLayers, which provides what EMC calls "application mapping and discovery software." Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, and it isn't expected to have an impact on sales or earnings in 2006.

Nevertheless, I consider the purchase of nLayers significant. Technology infrastructure is no longer self-contained; the emergence of networks has created a sea of geographically dispersed moving parts that can be hard to manage and even harder to fix. EMC's VMWare unit already addresses the job of connecting the software that creates data with the hardware that stores and protects it. Fixing broken connections is another matter entirely, and nLayers could help by mapping and monitoring them.

Maybe I'm wrong. But even if I am, EMC is still among the leaders of the data-storage market, which is expected to grow to $65 billion by 2010. (EMC is a $10 billion company today.) Meanwhile, the stock trades for 25 times trailing earnings, its cheapest multiple since 1996. If it takes a Fool to be interested in a valuation like that, then go ahead and fit me for a belled cap.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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