Investor Groupthink On Storage Misplaced


The blog Anaulin.org pointed us to this piece in Forbes last week that lists the 100 Most Powerful Women.

HP's Carly Fiorina is the most powerful executive on the list and hits the chart at No. 10. (National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took the top spot overall.)

Forbes refers to Fiorina as "a polished, sleek, and highly visible tech luminary." She's so powerful, in fact, that when HP preannounced that it had crashed and burned during its most recent fiscal quarter--disappointing investors in the process--the company brought down just about every other computer storage vendor with it.

It may be a bit of premature investor groupthink, however. The banking group Thomas Weisel Partners (TWP) e-mailed a research note this morning that said the following, among other things:

HP made headlines a week ago when it preannounced weak results, due largely to a 15 percent year-over-year decline in its storage revenue (down 23 percent in core midrange storage). Investors promptly pounded the share prices of all the storage system vendors, including growth leaders EMC and Network Appliance.

A funny thing happened on the way to writing the research note. After reviewing the performance of every publicly traded system vendor, TWP noted:

We can come to a definitive, albeit surprising (to some), conclusion: STORAGE SYSTEM SALES WERE STRONG IN Q2, UP 7 PERCENT YEAR OVER YEAR ON AVERAGE. Yes, that is correct, large system vendors grew approximately 7 percent on average (a weighted average by market share), nearly double overall IT spending growth and in line with the rate that people like EMC CEO Joe Tucci have been speaking about all year.

That analysis is backed up by other data. CRN's Scott Campbell reports in his Distributor Snapshot report this week that EMC and Hitachi Data Systems each saw triple-digit growth in sales-out, while HP's Compaq brand slipped by 2 percent.

So if the storage segment is having any problems, it seems to be isolated to Palo Alto. Investors can only imagine what the market will do for the storage segment if the world's most powerful female executive can turn around HP's operations.