While investors have struggled to make money in the perceived boring and unsexy data backup space, this is a time where one might seriously consider reviewing his or her playbook, as a few companies are making noise that hasn't yet been heard.
Let's take a look at some of the players ....
Mozy by EMC is a subsidiary of EMC Corporation (EMC), the largest provider of data storage platforms in the world. EMC's Mozy began providing online backup services for consumers and businesses in 2005 and now serves over 3 million customers. With a $50 billion market cap, a current P/E of 21 and a projected 15% EPS growth rate, I'd say the stock is fairly priced and fits the bill for those looking for a safe, long term investment.
Spare Backup, Inc. (OTCPK:SPBU) is a "white label" software company focused on storage and security, whose portals offer cloud based accessibility to content 24/7 from anywhere in the world via PC, smartphone or tablet. This unknown player made an unorthodox move in the space by targeting a niche market involving partners with large mobile phone customer bases. Their most recently launched service occurred last week and was with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and this 8-K gives you an idea of who might be next. The company recently extended their service agreement with Sony (SNE) and rumors in the blogosphere are saying that service launches with RadioShack Corp. (RSH) and Telefonica (TEF) are right around the corner. With management projecting EPS of .05 for 2012, the company close to operating cash-flow positive and Q1 revenues up 549% YOY, this is an evolving story I want to keep an eye on.
Carbonite, Inc. (CARB) offers online backup solutions with access to files stored on its servers, known as the Carbonite Personal Cloud. It allows its customers to browse and share their photos, videos, and documents using a Web browser or its free iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android apps. Although the company's been around since 2005, it IPO'd at $10.00 a share and began trading on August 12th of last year. Just two days later, the stock reached its current 52-week high of $21.10, but has been a steady disappointment ever since. With analysts projecting negative EPS of -.79 this year followed by a much improved -.47 for 2013, the stock is reaching a point where investors might want to start paying closer attention to business developments. Revenues are projected to grow some 32% next year and while this is impressive, I think the company will need at least one more year of demonstrating strong growth before investors become enthusiastic again, as was the case when the stock made its trading debut.
Symantec Corporation (SYMC) is a very diversified, widely recognized name that's been around since 1982 and employs over 20,000 people. The consumer segment provides internet security for PC's, tablets and mobile devices, providing services such as online backup, online family protection and remote help to individual users and home offices. Expecting strong growth from a $10 billion dollar company is expecting too much, but with a P/E of 9 and EPS projected to grow 10% next year, I find this stock a good place to park money in uncertain times and that's exactly where we are today.
Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc. that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. By 2010, just three short years after the company was founded, Dropbox held slightly over 10% of the worldwide backup client market. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) provides the storage for Dropbox and all files are encrypted and kept securely on Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3). With Dropbox raising over $250 million in venture capital money and rapidly growing its business to over 50 million users in the blink of an eye, not to mention it's one of the hottest companies in the Silicon Valley, an exciting IPO seems almost a certainty at some point. In defending its lead in the market, Dropbox will have to fend off rivals such as Apple (AAPL) and their iCloud offering and they will also be contending with Google (GOOG) and Amazon's alternative storage systems.
All in all, perception of the online backup space as somewhat dull will remain the same for some of the companies mentioned above, while other companies that think outside the box will be closely monitored by speculative investors as developments unfold.