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NetApp Nets a Bundle

Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) received high marks from analysts this quarter, not so much because of how much money it made but because of how it earned it.

NetApp reported third-quarter earnings of $40.1 million or $0.11 per share, up from $22.7 million or $0.06 per share in the same quarter last year. Revenues of $297.3 million for the quarter increased 30 percent from last year and 8 percent over the previous quarter.

Not surprisingly, reaction was positive, although that wasnt the case last quarter when NetApp’s stock dived after it posted $48.4 million in earnings (see NetApp Keeps Pedal to Metal).

There were a few differences about this quarter. One is the way the company increased earnings. While maintaining strong sales in its core NAS business, NetApp also made gains in software sales and in the nascent low-end SAN market. Its guidance is also stronger: NetApp forecasts sequential growth of 7 percent to 9 percent and EPS of $0.11 to $0.12 next quarter, up on both counts from the guidance it gave (and beat) for the just-completed quarter.

“We believe the company is executing on every phase of its growth strategy,” ThinkEquity Partners analyst Paul Mansky writes in a research note.

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