SGI Revenue Growth Continues

November 29, 2011
William P. Meyers

Looking for the technology company that reported calendar Q3 2011 revenue that was 58% higher than its Q3 of 2010? That would be Silicon Graphics International (SGI), manufacturer of high-performance technical computers (supercomputers) and high-efficiency server systems for datacenters and cloud computing.

GAAP revenues for fiscal Q1 2012 ending September 30, 2011 were $178.9 million, down 8% sequentially from $195.5 million, but up 58% from $112.9 million in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP net income was negative $2.7 million, improved sequentially from negative $12.1 million and improved from negative $11.2 million year-earlier. EPS (earnings per share) were negative $0.08, improved sequentially from negative $0.39, and also improved from negative $0.37 year-earlier.

While in the red on a GAAP basis, on a non-GAAP basis (mostly eliminating non-cash expenses like stock-based compensation) SGI managed a profit of $2.2 million, or $0.07 per share. SGI has gone through a period of investing to introduce new products, and also expanding its sales force. Profit margins could improve as further ramps in revenue should not require similar ramps in operating expenses.

While not giving guidance by quarter, for fiscal year 2012 (running to June 2012) revenue is expected between $740 and $780 million, up to 24% over fiscal 2011.GAAP EPS is estimated between $0.15 and $0.30. Non-GAAP EPS expected between $0.60 and $0.80.

How are they achieving such stellar growth while other computer makers are lagging? SGI specializes in expensive computers used for scientific research, as well as large systems for cloud computing and Web farms. These are all areas that continue to grow quickly. While there is competition from the likes of IBM, HP, Dell, and Cray, the newest systems introduced by SGI, notably Altix UV, are better at addressing the needs of their markets.

Nor is SGI resting on their laurels. They are introducing computers that run large scale systems running Windows SQL Server. They have improved their compatibility with Hadoop and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. They continue to be a major supplier for Amazon's cloud system. They also have started acquiring small companies that specialize in supercomputer application software. SGI expects that the ability to sell software as well as hardware will be a major advantage for verticals they service, with higher profit margins.

Finally, they ended the latest quarter with $115 million in cash with no debt. They did use $30 million of cash to build inventory in the quarter, but the systems built had been pre-ordered and should be shipping this quarter.

Because of the size of the systems involved, some quarter-to-quarter lumpiness is to be expected.

If you read what scientists are saying about Altix UV, you will realize why management has become very confident in SGI's future. On the analyst call they stated the next big SGI milestone will be $1 billion in annual revenue, which should bring between $1.75 and $2.00 non-GAAP EPS per share.

The recent growth has been in the face of a lot of uncertainty and a poor macroeconomy. Even so, if the doomsayers are right about global slowdown or meltdown scenarios in 2012, that could impact sales. I am more concerned about competition, but it does seem that for now SGI has found a niche where it can outcompete far larger companies.

For more details on calendar Q3 results, see my SGI Q1 fiscal 2012 analyst call summary.

Disclaimer: I am long SGI. I won't change my position for at least one week from today.

The usual risks apply, so keep diversified!

See also: www.sgi.com

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Copyright 2011 William P. Meyers