Slimmed-down LSI catches eyes on Wall Street

Contact: Brenon Daly

Wall Street’s vote on NetApp’s purchase of the Engenio division from LSI is pretty clear: the seller got the better end of the deal. On an otherwise tough day on the market Thursday, LSI shares were one of the rare spots of green on trading screens as investors backed the company’s move to focus more on its chips business. The stock closed up 3%, with volume was more than twice as heavy as average. On the other side, NetApp slumped 6% on trading that was four times heavier than a typical day.

The reaction comes after LSI, advised by Goldman Sachs, announced plans after the closing bell Wednesday to sell its Engenio external storage systems business to NetApp for $480m in cash. (Over the past decade, LSI had several plans to spin off that unit in an IPO, but never managed to get it done.) The deal, which is expected to close within 60 days, continues a run of divestitures that LSI has undergone, including shedding divisions serving mobility and consumer products.

We would note that Engenio is garnering a valuation of just 0.7 times sales, a smidge below the more typical 1x sales seen in many divestitures. (For instance, when LSI shed its mobility products unit in mid-2007, that business garnered 1.2x trailing sales.) Still, the discount doesn’t seem to have mattered to Wall Street.