3Par Shoots a Birdie

The folks at 3Par (NYSE: PAR  ) should thank Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , which recently agreed to purchase rival storage provider EqualLogic for a cool $1.4 billion. So at last week's IPO of 3Par, investors had no qualms about buying shares, which increased 13% last week. Overall, the stock is up 9% since its IPO, and now sports a market cap of about $915 million.

3Par is a pioneer of so-called utility storage technology, which provides storage on an as-needed basis. For example, if an application is undergoing lots of usage, then 3Par will allocate the necessary amount of storage to handle things. The benefits include lower administrative costs, improved storage utilization, and lower cooling requirements.

Over the past five years, 3Par has collared more than 200 customers, including Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS  ) , AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , and the U.S. Census Bureau. There is some customer concentration, however, with MySpace.com representing 15% of revenue.

According to research from IDC, 3Par's market opportunity is $8.5 billion. However, there is certainly lots of competition, from such firms as EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) , Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) . And Dell's recent acquisition is likely to put pressure on 3Par.

Then again, all this activity may make 3Par a good buyout candidate, right? The company has a strong product portfolio and has had a solid growth ramp. For the first half of this year, revenue spiked 51% to $51.7 million.

But Foolish investors still need to be careful. After all, take a look at the recent IPO of storage operator Compellent (NYSE: CML  ) . Since its debut in late September, the stock is off more than 40% from its high. In other words, if you're taking a look at 3Par, there could still be some bogies.


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