Yesterday EMC Corporation (EMC) reported first quarter 2013 revenue and EPS just barely below Street estimates. Revenue of $5.39 million was just below the $5.43 billion estimate. EPS of 39 cents was a penny below estimates. Growth in revenue and EPS was 6% and 5%, respectively. Against recent reports from IBM (IBM) and other companies serving very large information technology customers, these results are decent. Furthermore, the results are consistent with the guidance the company laid out in January for 8% revenue growth and 9% EPS growth in 2013. Management reaffirmed 2013 guidance in conjunction with the report.
All that said, I have decided to sell the stock for Northlake clients. EMC just never worked. Despite outperforming other enterprise focused technology companies and being the leader in must have storage technologies, investors do not seem willing to reward the company just for being better than its peers. Growth is not accelerating as I expected, and headwinds to meeting management growth targets remain as large corporation and government entities face restrictions on their IT budgets. Additionally, austerity in government spending that began in 2011 with over $1 trillion in budget cuts and now another $1 trillion due to sequestration has proved costly to EMC and its peers.
As noted in my review of Apple’s (AAPL) latest earnings, there is a long history of great technology companies going unrewarded by investors after their high growth phase is over. Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC), and Cisco Systems (CSCO) come to mind. EMC fits in that category as well.
Previously, I believed the company’s opportunity in storage -- arguably the most important byproduct of the Internet revolution beyond bandwidth -- could give EMC another period as a growth stock. I am no longer willing to wait despite the quality of the EMC management as evidenced by the decent performance in the most recent quarter. Sometimes you just have to admit you can find a better idea elsewhere. I was wrong on EMC and will look for that better idea in which reinvest the proceeds.
Disclosure: No positions in EMC.