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Compellent pulls off a strong quarter

Boringly booming business as usual

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Compellent has shown steady growth again, recording $32.2m revenues in its third 2009 period in a 31 per cent rise on the previous quarter.

The result was a 12 per cent increase on 2008's third quarter. Net income was $2.3m, up from the year-ago period's $0.46m.

The company gained 136 new customers in the quarter taking its installed customer base to 1,627. The gross margin was 57.2 per cent, compared to 53.7 per cent in the previous quarter.

With Compellent's track record, this is getting a bit humdrum. CEO Phil Soran reflected this sentiment, saying in the earnings call transcript: "Well, this is another exceptional quarter for Compellent."

Referencing the Savvis win he said Compellent is getting "increased attention from large enterprise users". Soran said Compellent was getting attention in larger accounts and that this would lead to more opportunities over time, but nothing was said about making product upgrades to appeal more directly to enterprise accounts.

If Compellent turns its attention more to enterprise customers then we might expect an increase in the product's ability to withstand drive failures and so forth, with higher levels of reliability and availability.

Compellent has a very lean business model and enterprise sales typically have a much higher level of service activity. Compellent does have a professional services organisation and is investing in it, but not to any degree that would seem exceptional.

Still, Dell has made that transition from SME to enterprise sales, and it is tempting to think of Compellent moving upscale. Equally, though, it could add a small enterprise focus with even easier-to-use arrays.

Soran said the economic environment is getting better: "We are seeing positive signs of improvement. It is significantly better than two quarters ago."

He is confident about next year and talked of increasing Compellent's spend in engineering and in sales. We should see "additional investment in sales and engineering... [We are] currently making plans for 2010. We see opportunity to increase our sales force and engineering teams at rates that are higher than 2009."

The outlook for the fourth quarter is for revenues between $34m and $36m, which would make full year 2009 revenues of $123m to $125m.

Clearly the company knows what it's doing in its chosen medium enterprise market and is on a roll with its efficient block storage arrays. There's no reason not to suppose that the same story will be repeated in January, 2010, with a fourth quarter showing higher revenues, more net income and an increased customer count. ®

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