In this video, Fool analyst Eric Bleeker describes why he believes EMC (NYSE: EMC ) could be the best value for investors interested in the growing storage field. EMC and NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP ) are the two largest pure plays in the field, but as with many other growth industries, high growth leads to expensive multiples.
Looking at the more niche players in the industry, companies like Compellent (NYSE: CML ) , Isilon (Nasdaq: ISLN ) , and CommVault (Nasdaq: CVLT ) all trade at trailing P/Es above 65 and forward multiples above 30. After the fierce bidding war between Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) and Dell over high-end storage play 3Par, stocks across the industry rose sharply as the investors placed bets that other small players would be swooped up by the top dogs in this rapidly consolidating industry.
On the surface, EMC looks expensive as well, trading at 28 times its trailing earnings. However, EMC holds a valuable asset in its 80% ownership stake in virtualization expert VMware (NYSE: VMW ) . After stripping out the value of EMC's VMware holdings, the effects of consolidating VMware into its financial statements, and dilutive stock-based compensation, EMC trades for less than 10 times its trailing free cash flow. For comparison, NetApp trades for around 24 times its trailing free cash flow.
Granted, investors could see VMware's price as overvalued as well, and divesting that stake to realize the full value of VMware doesn't seem likely, but the exercise does show that EMC is trading at a steep discount to its peers. If you're looking into storage companies, Bleeker says to check out EMC first. This deal on an industry leader might not last long.