Virtual computing outfit VMware (NYSE: VMW) is usually a highlight whenever majority owner and storage giant EMC (NYSE: EMC) reports earnings. Things are different this time.

EMC's third-quarter report comes at a time when the company is subject to buyout speculation and the storage industry as a whole looks like a great place to put your investment dollars. Record sales of $4.2 billion and 57% stronger GAAP earnings year-over-year showed off EMC's fundamental strength. If Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) decides to put down an offer for the company, as the rumormongers would have it, the purchase price would be ameliorated by about $7.4 billion of net cash. By all accounts, EMC's core business is firing on every available cylinder.

Large storage arrays of the kind offered by EMC and storage rivals NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) or IBM (NYSE: IBM) are in vogue thanks to a trend toward consolidation of computing resources. Using concepts such as cloud computing and networked storage, it's easy to boil sprawling network architectures down to a relative handful of large servers and massive disk arrays, even if you're running a very large enterprise on these assets. Partly thanks to the VMware acquisition, but also because of its traditional storage expertise, EMC is in a great position to benefit from this sea change.

Storage-hungry system integrators like Oracle or the multi-headed beast that Cisco Systems (NYSE: CSCO) is becoming could do far worse than to plunk down an enormous stack of cash and stock certificates for EMC. The storage industry is consolidating rapidly, and you might as well grab the creme de la creme if you're in the buffet line anyways. I wouldn't be surprised to see the buyout rumors materializing into an actual bid, and this rock-solid earnings report did absolutely nothing to undermine that possibility.

Add EMC to your watchlist so you don't miss it if and when the buyout offers start trickling in. I, for one, welcome our massively integrated IT overlords.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund is not Kent Brockman but he can do a mean impression. He holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool has written calls (Bull Call Spread) on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of IBM and Oracle. 

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