By Ben Fox Rubin
NetApp Inc.'s (NTAP) fiscal third-quarter earnings jumped 32% as the data-storage firm's smaller software and services segments made up for a slight decline in product sales.
For the fiscal fourth quarter, the company forecast adjusted earnings of 65 cents to 70 cents a share and revenue of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters most recently expected 65 cents and $1.75 billion, respectively.
NetApp, which stores and manages clients' information, had been reporting sharply lower earnings since August as some customers--particularly defense and financial-services companies--avoided spending on data centers. Uncertainty in Europe also hurt the company's ability to predict future sales, executives had said.
For the quarter ended Jan. 25, the company reported earnings of $158.1 million, or 43 cents a share, up from $119.6 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, per-share earnings were up at 67 cents from 58 cents.
Revenue improved 4.1% to $1.63 billion.
The company in November forecast adjusted earnings of 53 cents to 58 cents a share on revenue of $1.58 billion to $1.68 billion.
Gross margin widened to 59.2% from 58%, though input costs grew 1.2%.
Product sales, which make up the bulk of revenue, slipped 0.2%. Software revenue rose 12%, and service revenue grew 14%.
Shares closed Wednesday at $35.82 and were up 0.8% after hours. As of the close, the stock was up 36% over the past three months, buoyed in part by November's better-than-feared fiscal second-quarter results.
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