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Procom's Prospects Dim

The NAS startup's financials bode a cloudy future

Why did Procom forego the world of legacy storage for the SAN market? Perhaps its the golddigger mentality. As researchers forecasted triple-digit growth for the network attached storage (NAS) market, numerous companies hoping to cash in began developing storage appliances in hopes of staking a claim.

Procom, however, is caught between a rock and a hard place. “Quantum Devices Inc. and Maxtor make life really difficult for Procom at the low end,” says Tony Prigmore, an analyst with The Enterprise Storage Group Inc.

. “They’re caught in the middle and can’t compete with high functionality products from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP).”

Analysts say that even in a recession, demand for NAS products should grow solidly as corporate IT departments learn that installing attached storage can save them considerable sums in labor and administrative costs over the long haul. The small NAS vendors who fail to stay cutting edge or who don’t have cozy relationships with large system integrators are not likely to hit pay dirt though.

Procom’s NAS sales are increasing -- but not nearly fast enough to supplant the loss of other revenues. NAS sales for the year just ended were $28 million, or 68 percent of total revenue, up from $17 million, or 28 percent of total revenue, the prior year.

Procom does appear, though, to have financial savvy in lieu of marketing or technology expertise. The company sold 3.8 million shares at $9 a share in a follow-on offering in June, just before financing of public technology companies crawled to a virtual halt. Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MER) acted as placement agent on the timely $34 million fund raiser.

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