Tech acquisitions can be tricky, as can be seen with Brocade's
Founded in 1979, Emulex is a leader in so-called Fibre Channel technology. This is a combination of hardware and software that helps companies that have high-end storage needs with e-commerce, data warehousing, and business applications. The technology also allows companies to access data across their extensive computer networks (i.e., storage area networks or SANs). Customers include biggies like Dell
Emulex is fairly mature, with sales growing 7% to $402.8 million over the past year. During this time, earnings per share fell from $0.80 to $0.75. Then again, the past year's earnings include the expensing of stock options.
As for Sierra Logic, it is a privately held firm, founded in 2001, that develops SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) storage systems. While Fibre Channel is for sophisticated storage requirements, SATA is a stripped-down version. However, Sierra's SATA products are considered industry standouts and apparently control about 85% of the market.
More importantly, SATA is a growth market. Sierra's sales have ramped from $4.4 million in 2004 to $15.6 million in 2005. According to the Emulex press release, Sierra Logic is expected to produce $8 million to $10 million in revenues in the fourth quarter.
I interviewed Gregory Quick, an analyst with tech research firm The451Group. According to him: "By buying Sierra Logic and incorporating its technology with its existing products, [Emulex] should be able to move its fibre channel into the lower end of the enterprise storage space and help extend the life of that technology."
Basically, the company is positioning itself to benefit from the growth in storage -- driven by factors like the massive move to the Internet and regulatory compliance. But, to capture this growth, management realizes it needs market-leading products, which often means buying startups like Sierra Logic and Arohi Communications (a data-center storage provider it purchased for $39 million several months ago).
Over the past few years, Emulex's stock has traded in a price range of $15-$20. But, by using its large cash hoard to purchase next-generation technologies, the company has a chance to increase its growth and hopefully get its stock price out of the rut.
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