Hopkinton, Mass. (
(EMC - Get Report) should offer valuable insight into the state of IT spending when it posts its third-quarter results before the market opens Thursday.
The storage giant, which recently hit a 52-week high, is expected to earn 21 cents a share and report revenue of $3.45 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
Despite storage's reputation as a recession-busting technology, EMC has not had the
easiest of times during the downturn, although its
second-quarter results suggested that demand was stabilizing.
upgraded the technology hardware sector, citing
improving demand for servers and storage, with momentum expected to continue through 2010.
Despite analyst bullishness, EMC rival
(IBM - Get Report)
saw its storage revenue plunge 13% during its recent quarterly results, increasing the interest in
"Our checks suggest that EMC tracked slightly ahead of plan throughout the quarter driven mostly by hardware -- both with Clariion (midrange) and Symmetrix (high-end)," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst David Bailey, in a recent note. The company's hardware revenue, although still pressured by the macro environment, should be up 5% sequentially, he added.
The New England firm reported second-quarter revenue of $3.26 billion, down 11% on the prior year's quarter but just above Wall Street's forecast of $3.2 billion. Sales, however, increased 3.4% sequentially.
Investors may also gain a hint as to EMC's performance late Wednesday, when its
(VMW - Get Report)
subsidiary posts its own
. VMware contributed
to EMC's second-quarter results.
Bailey nonetheless feels that EMC's stock may offer limited near-term upside. "We think EMC's strong September-quarter results are already mostly reflected in the shares at current levels," he wrote. "We wouldn't expect the stock to move up on earnings and see the risk/reward with a slight downward bias near term."