EMC Corporation (EMC), VMware, Inc. (VMW) & NetApp Inc. (NTAP): Data Is Exploding, Buy Cloud Storage Providers

I have written a lot about large data centers and the cloud, and only sort of touched on storage. Information is growing like crazy, and all of that needs to be stored somewhere. Images, videos, and other content are taking over our lives. A lot of websites that used to look for writers are looking for people to do short videos instead of just simple articles.

The capability has been there for a while, but has started taking of recently. The amount of data that needs to be stored is increasing dramatically with the evolution of the internet and the addition of all the cloud services. Storage solutions deserve attention, or at least a space on your watchlist. Opportunity might present itself at any time.

Tight range, no dividend, investment?

The three year return of EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) is around 11%. The stock was higher, but has declined and wiped out any gains. The one year and year-to-date returns are negative. EMC’s 52-week range is very tight at $21.45-$28.75. The stock is right at its 52-week low. The narrow range is a bit surprising considering the overall year that the stock market has had. Movement was the norm and it was mostly up. Even stocks that went down declined like champions.

EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) sports no dividend, so a careful investment is necessary. Even if the stock starts recovering, I wonder how far it would really progress before going flat again. The narrow 52-week range in light of some of the massive gains made by other stocks in the past year is a serious problem. Without a dividend to reward patience, I could imagine going stir crazy with EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC). I still think it is worth keeping an eye on. I prefer EMC’s subsidiary VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW) for the long haul, but EMC has such a cheap valuation, especially with its stake in VMware, that grabbing a few does not seem like a bad idea.

EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) looks more like a traders stock, because it moves a lot in its defined range, heading from a top to a bottom on regular occasion. As we are near the 52-week low, I want to consider it as a longer term investment to see if there is something there that might reward shareholders eventually. Growth is expected to be muted, but positive. The company is very profitable and has almost $1.5 billion in free cash flow. It also engages itself in acquisitions. Massive free cash flow, plus not giving it to shareholders, means that the company can finance a lot of acquisitions in order to see growth.

Excluding VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW), the company’s marketable securities amount to $4 billion. EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) might be considered undervalued if you account for the VMware stock it owns, but reading back to articles a few years old, this is a consistent problem. No one can be sure when it will be rectified, but the share price, aside its stake in VMware is real value and VMware is a strong company as well.

I see EMC’s direct business as picking up over the next few years. EMC sells storage devices and related products like disaster recovery, backups, and related services. Companies will need the storage to keep up with users. All the cloud services we use and profiles that we have are an example of all the data we keep on the web now. All that data needs to be stored.

EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) works a lot with its subsidiary and a lot of its product initiatives are discussed with VMware. This is not surprising as VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW) provides virtualization and cloud services. Both of those things store data at a central location that can be accessed from anywhere. EMC’s products naturally fit into that. Even for backing up data, massive amounts of storage is needed, possibly more than the current data if multiple versions are stored. Some enterprises use redundant backups on a rolling schedule so they can jump back to a specific point in time.