NetApp: Single and lovin’ it

Contact: Brenon Daly

Jilted earlier this summer, NetApp is nonetheless doing just fine on its own, thank you very much. Shares of the storage giant are now changing hands at their highest level in more than two years, giving the company a market capitalization of a cool $10bn. (The stock tacked on 4% on Thursday after NetApp topped Wall Street expectations for its fiscal second-quarter results and indicated that its current quarter is shaping up stronger than investors initially projected. Shares closed up $1.21 at $30.83 Thursday in an otherwise down day for the market.)

Thursday’s move higher continues a recent bull run for NetApp shares since the firm got elbowed aside by EMC in the fight over Data Domain. In the six months since NetApp unveiled its unsuccessful bid for the data de-duplication specialist, shares of NetApp have soared 70%. (In comparison, the winner in the bidding war, EMC, has returned ‘only’ 40% over that period.) We mention the relative performance of the shares of the two vendors because originally, NetApp planned to use its equity to cover slightly more than half the cost of Data Domain. (With its deeper pockets, EMC always planned to pay all cash for Data Domain, as it did when it wrapped up the acquisition in late July.)

So, from the outset, we agree that our back-of-the-envelope calculation is a bit academic, given that the Data Domain deal has been done and dusted for nearly four months. (And we’ll acknowledge that it’s a bit inexact because NetApp never formally announced the precise amount of stock, or even the specific conversion price, that it planned to use.) Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear that Data Domain owners would have done pretty well if they had taken NetApp equity. (Of course, shareholders did just fine with the $33.50 in cash from EMC, which, at 7.4 times trailing sales, was the highest multiple paid for a US-listed public company since March 2008.)

With all of those disclaimers, here’s our math: When NetApp first announced the bid on May 20, its shares traded at about $17.30 each. Although it didn’t reveal the exact breakdown of cash and stock in its offer, which had an equity value of $1.75bn, we understand that NetApp was planning to hand over about $800m in cash and cover the remaining $950m in equity. Assuming that’s roughly the breakdown, that same chunk of NetApp stock would now be worth about $1.8bn – more than the full value of its initial cash-and-stock offer. Add the $800m in cash into the mix, and the total consideration for Data Domain (based on NetApp’s current share price) hits $2.6bn. That’s roughly $300m more than EMC ended up paying for Data Domain.