EMC's

(EMC)

oft-stated $12 billion revenue target for 2001 is now a best-case scenario.

EMC issued a press release Thursday titled "EMC Reaffirms 2001 Goal and Comments on Business Climate." The reaffirmation? According to the release, EMC "continues to march toward its revenue goal of $12 billion in 2001." The company had last reiterated that target on its earnings

conference call last month.

Those who didn't read further probably didn't see the heading under which the release sat on EMC's Web site. It read, "An EMC Regulation FD Statement," signaling that new, material information was being disseminated. And sure enough, EMC went on to say that because of economic uncertainty, it now expects sales growth this year to be in a range between 25% and 35% -- a range the company hasn't previously discussed.

The top end of that range would put sales at $12 billion, on target. But the bottom end would give EMC revenue of just under $11.1 billion, more than $900 million short of previous guidance.

"They lowered guidance without lowering guidance," said

Robertson Stephens

analyst Dane Lewis. Lewis said that back-of-the-envelope calculations were telling him that the low end of EMC's new guidance translated to 2001 earnings per share in the low 90-cents-a-share range. Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

are currently expecting 2001 EPS of $1.03. (Robbie Stephens hasn't done underwriting for EMC.)

"What happened to storage as nondiscretionary spending?" Lewis said. "They've been saying that for the past six weeks. EMC is still a great company. But it's not immune. Numbers will have to come down."

EMC lately was falling $6.36, or 15%, to $36.59.