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Tickers in this Article: EMC
EMC (NYSE:EMC) will announce its third quarter earnings on Wednesday, October 24, 2012.

Earnings season is important to investors because it shows how much profit is left in the company's hand after deducting costs from revenue. SEE: How To Decode A Company's Earnings Reports

What to Expect: The consensus estimate for EMC's earnings is 34 cents per share, up 9.7% from a year ago when the company reported earnings of 31 cents per share.

While down from 35 cents three months ago, the consensus estimate has remained unchanged over the past 30 days. Analysts are projecting earnings of $1.42 per share for the fiscal year.

EMC is expected to report revenue of $5.46 billion for the quarter, beating last year's figure of $4.98 billion by 9.6%. For the fiscal year, expected revenue is $22.03 billion.

Company Performance: Revenue has risen for four consecutive quarters now. It rose 9.6% in the second quarter, 10.6% in the first quarter, 14% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year and 18.2% in the third quarter of the last fiscal year.

EMC's P/E ratio of 20.7 is under the industry average of 37.88. Companies with low P/E ratios may find it easier to surprise the market to the upside, even if their financial performance is not as strong as that of companies with high P/E ratios. A simple P/E ratio can reveal the stock's real market value and show how the valuation compares to its industry group or a benchmark like the S&P 500 Index. From the investor's perspective, a stock with a lower ratio is relatively cheaper than a stock with a higher ratio. SEE: Understanding The P/E Ratio

The stock price has increased over the past quarter just slightly to $25 from $24.80 on July 23, 2012. EMC's worst recent stretch was when its stock price fell $1.79 per share between September 27, 2012 and October 15, 2012.

The Competition: EMC and its subsidiaries deliver and support a range of information infrastructure technologies and solutions. The majority of analysts (29 of 31) give EMC a buy rating. Opinion about the stock has worsened recently, as buy ratings have dropped slightly over the last three months.

The company's closest competitor in the computer storage devices industry is NetApp (NTAP). Analysts are more optimistic about EMC than about NetApp. Only 10 out of 28 analysts rate the latter a buy.

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