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Top 3 Tech Stocks for 2013


EMC may lack the glitz of Apple or the headline-grabbing social media buzz of Facebook (FB), but the storage giant is certainly worthy of investors' attention.

"I think they are as well-positioned as any company in tech going into 2013," Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, told TheStreet. "You feel that they are well-positioned from a product perspective as well as from a secular perspective."

"I view them as the single best-positioned enterprise IT company that serves the cloud," added Brian Marshall, an analyst at ISI Group. "At the end of the day, I think we're only scratching the surface of what's possible with the cloud."

The rise of cloud technology in recent years has spelt good news for EMC, which provides much of the core cloud hardware and software, both for enterprises deploying their own clouds and companies selling cloud services.

EMC, for example, recently revamped its high-end Symmetrix VMAX hardware, which is specifically designed for cloud computing and is gaining traction with customers. The company's high-end storage revenue increased 5% year-over-year in the third quarter.

Other EMC cloud offerings include its Atmos hardware and software, and the offerings of its VCE joint venture with VMware (VMW) and Cisco (CSCO).

Aimed at firms looking to quickly build out their cloud infrastructure, the pact centers on pre-packaged blocks of hardware and software, dubbed Vblocks. EMC said that VCE demand was up 30% year-over-year in the company's third quarter.

Like many tech companies, though, EMC has been feeling the strain of a tough economy, dipping below analysts' estimates in its third-quarter results last month (its first notable consensus miss in almost four years). The company's status as a Wall Street darling, however, remains untarnished.

"EMC has executed solidly on its long-term strategy with the result that the company's leadership in storage hardware and software seems virtually unassailable," said Charles King, principal analyst at tech research firm Pund-IT. Most notably, he added, EMC's majority ownership of virtualization software giant VMware continues to reap dividends.

VMware's the jewel in EMC's crown. Despite the global spending slowdown, the software maker still grew its third-quarter revenue 20% compared to the same period last year. VMware accounted for just over 21% of EMC's third-quarter revenue.

EMC also has a slew of new products looming on the horizon, including Project Thunder and Project X, two devices exploiting high-performance Flash storage. The company's also planning to ship the new operating system for its Isilon network-attached storage devices, dubbed Mavericks, before the end of the year, and expects to launch new RSA security products in early 2013.

"This is a $20 billion annual revenue company that I think can continue to grow double digits on the top line for the next several years," added ISI Group's Brian Marshall. "I think that they can grow earnings faster than revenue."

Boosted by cloud, virtualization and the ongoing need to store data, EMC looks set for a strong 2013.

"You can't put storage spending off for that long," said Topeka Capital Markets' White. "I think EMC's a good one."

TheStreet Ratings has a 'buy' rating on EMC.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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