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NetApp Is a Perfect Takeover Candidate

Stocks in this article: NTAP ORCL EMC VMW IBM SYMC AAPL

One way it could do this is by acquiring a company like NetApp (NTAP). NetApp has a $12.6 billion market cap and creates innovative storage and data-management solutions for a wide array of companies. On September 5, it was ranked no. 51 out of 100 on Forbes magazine's list of the "World's Most Innovative Companies" for 2012.

"Customers around the world choose us for our 'go beyond' approach and broad portfolio of solutions for business applications, storage for virtual servers, disk-to-disk backup, and more. Our solutions provide nonstop availability of critical business data and simplify business processes so companies can deploy new capabilities with confidence and get to revenue faster than ever before," says its investor-friendly, informative Web site, which I encourage you to explore.

Yet from a key financial statistics point-of-view, NTAP needs help with its anemic profit margin (8.52%) and its 10.58% operating margin. It has revenue of $6.22 billion, but if it's going to move its share price back up to the $46.80 52-week high, it's going to need to drastically improve on its earnings-per-share, which dropped 54.3% (year-over-year) in its last quarter.

The five-year chart below indicates that the share price of NTAP relates strongly with its earnings-per-share growth, which peaked in the middle of 2010 and again in the first half of 2012. Since then, it appears to have experienced a sharp decline.

NTAP Chart NTAP data by YCharts

The need for data-storage solutions, enterprise-storage systems and software to be deployed in storage-area networks is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the three biggest names in this space is EMC (EMC). This tech powerhouse, which also owns a good portion of VMWare (VMW), just felt the competition in the data-storage business heat up.

IBM (IBM) announced on Sept. 24 that it purchased a private company that offers storage-planning software and storage-migration tools. This may give IBM an advantage in the increasingly complex world of data-center management as virtualization, data growth and the use of cloud technology to solve data-storage issues evolve.

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