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NetApp Preps Post-Recession Plan

Stocks in this article: NTAP

NetApp did not provide second-quarter revenue guidance during its recent quarterly results, citing lake of macroeconomic visibility, so it will be interesting to see whether the firm brushes off its crystal ball Thursday.

The storage specialist also unveiled a shiny new CEO during the summer, with COO Tom Georgens taking the company's reins from Dan Warmenhoven. Described as a "planned transition", Warmenhoven now serves as the firm's executive chairman, and investors will be keen to see how his successor maintains the NetApp growth trajectory.

The new CEO is likely to face questions about his M&A strategy Thursday, particularly after NetApp lost out to EMC in the tussle to acquire Data Domain (DDUP).

With NetApp locked in a market share battle with rivals EMC and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), it seems likely that the firm will look at other acquisitions and a number of names have already been mentioned. Possible targets could include software specialist CommVault (CVLT) Virtual Tape Library (VTL) firm FalconStor (FALC) or privately-held Sepaton

Another possibility is NetApp itself becoming acquisition bait, according to Broadpoint AmTech's Marshall.

"It has been widely speculated over the last few years that NetApp is an attractive take-over candidate for larger, more mature IT companies like Cisco (CSCO), IBM (IBM) and Hewlett-Packard," he wrote. "While we have no insight as to the validity of these speculations, we do believe that it would make sense for a larger IT company to acquire NetApp as it would be attractive from a product portfolio and accretion perspective."

NetApp shares dipped 77 cents, or 2.9%, to $26.06 Wednesday, while the Nasdaq rose 0.01%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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