Values Abound in Enterprise Computing

With the European recession beginning to impact earnings guidance for U.S. companies in recent weeks, one of the sectors to really get hammered is enterprise-focused technology. While second quarter profit reports and forward guidance will likely be unimpressive this month, some of the current valuations on Wall Street make little sense even in that scenario. As a result, I would expect strategic mergers and private equity buyers to begin looking at some of these companies.

There are far too many ideas to list here, or buy for clients, so I will just point to one that looks intriguing; enterprise collaboration hardware maker Polycom (PLCM). Polycom earned $1.18 per share last year, but weakening demand has pushed forecasts for 2012 down to just $0.89 which has crushed the stock from $32 a year ago to a recent quote of just $9 per share. What really bulks up the bullish case for the stock is that Polycom has no debt and a whopping $600 million of cash in the bank, which equates to about $3.50 per share in net cash. Investors are getting the business for only $6 per share, or 5 times trailing earnings.

With such a pristine balance sheet, the odds of Polycom being acquired rises materially relative to the average hardware company. It would be a logical target for a Cisco, HP, or Dell, all of which are companies that either compete with PLCM or are looking to expand their product offerings to enterprise customers. Even without a deal, the stock should likely command at least a market multiple, which would put fair value in the high teens inclusive of cash. This is just one of many enterprise computing companies that have been decimated in recent months, which make them very attractive in my view.

Full Disclosure: Clients of Peridot Capital own shares of Polycom at the time of writing, but positions may change at any time.