Novell SUSE LinuxNovell's latest quarterly financial results, revealed today, were a mixed bag for the SUSE Linux provider. Novell made progress in some areas. But didn't really thrive in others. Where does the company go from here. The answers will likely surface at the Novell BrainShare 2010 conference (March 21-25, Utah), where Novell will strive to energize channel partners and customers? In the meantime, here's a look at Novell's current business condition ... through the eyes of The VAR Guy.

No doubt, this blog entry looks a lot like previous blog entries about Novell's financial performance...
  • The good news: Novell's Q1 net income rose to $20.2 million, or 6 cents a share, from $10.7 million, or 3 cents a share in the same period a year earlier.
  • The bad news: Novell's earnings per share were a penny below analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Updated 2/26: Though Fox Business says earnings did meet expectations
  • The good news: Security, Management and Operating Platforms business unit invoicing grew 26%.
  • The bad news: Novell's revenues were $207.6 million, slightly short of the $214.9 million expected by analysts.
  • Updated, 2/26 - the good news: Novell's SUSE Linux business is now break-even
(Credit: Data above from MarketWatch, The Register)

Sounds Familiar

Good news. Bad news. Good news. Bad news. Good news. That's a familiar trend at Novell. Of course, there's nothing tragic here. Novell isn't bleeding cash. The company's technology hasn't been disrupted ... this isn't a case of Novell looking like a struggling Sun Microsystems, Apple (in the mid 1990s) or IBM (early 1990s).

Instead, this is Novell being Novell... but can Novell ever be a growth company again?

Novell's earnings release included an upbeat statement from CEO Ron Hovsepian, who said:
“We are pleased with the invoicing recovery in our Security, Management and Operating Platforms business unit as well as our solid operating margin performance this quarter."
Still, the earnings release was short on hype. In the release, Hovsepian didn't cheer about any SUSE Linux customer wins. He didn't brag about  SUSE Studio and SUSE Appliance momentum. He didn't make bold promises about new efforts like Novell Cloud Security Services. And he didn't hype Novell's Intelligent Workload Management (IWM) strategy, an all-encompassing push involving all of Novell's offerings.

What's the true mood inside Novell? And how do investors feel about Hovsepian's leadership and Novell's overall business strategy? We'll get some initial answers when the opening bell rings on Wall Street on Feb. 26. And The VAR Guy will pursue more answers at BrainShare, starting March 21.