I've said this before - analysts seem to want to
concede the storage market to EMC
. Given EMC's lead and the company's continued investments to produce growth, I don't have a problem with that. But I nonetheless believe that this competition is far from decided - It's still up for grabs. You can disagree if you like. But even if NetApp were to battle it out for second place for a few more years, you have to consider that these same experts are also projecting a 200% surge in the Big Data industry during that span. Suddenly, being second place in a growing market is not so bad now, is it?
Don't confuse my "second-place logic" for complacency, though. NetApp's management has much bigger ambitions. And the company's strength in its branded business, including the ONTAP product that enables scalable data management and operational consistency across private, public and hybrid clouds, is going to have a say in the direction that this industry takes.
And I haven't even said anything about NetApp's strength in Fabric-Attached Storage and also the company's E-series line of products, many of which highlight NetApp's appeal to the enterprise. So discount this company at your own peril. I believe astute investors can still do well here, given the recent slip in the share price. On a long-term basis, I believe NetApp's fair market value is still north of $50 on the basis of continued margin expansion and free-cash-flow growth.
At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.