Dell, HP – Something You Won’t Hear Me Say Anytime Soon
“I want to buy Dell and HP stock.”
Apart from the breathless announcements from CNBC flashing on my screen regarding the bidding war between Dell and HP for 3Par – a company that makes data storage equipment – I have only tangentially been following this farce.
Frankly, I will proclaim my ignorance. This may be The Greatest Acquisition in the History of Mankind. But I am skeptical.
The “winner” to buy 3Par – Hewlett-Packard – will have the privilege of purchasing a company whose stock flatlined around $10 a share over the past year for $33 a share, a full 242% above 3Par’s closing price on August 13 of $9.65 when the bidding frenzy began.
For those not paying attention – which is impossible if you have had CNBC on for more than 10 minutes – HP and Dell have been engaged in a spectacular bidding war for a company most people have never heard of. On August 16, Dell offered to buy 3Par for $18 a share, nearly double the prior trading day’s closing price. A week later on Monday August 23, Hewlett-Packard offered to buy 3Par for $24 a share. On Thursday of that week, Dell upped its bid to $24.30 a share. Like an antsy day trader who just can’t wait to buy, eight hours later, HP offered $27 per share for 3Par. Dell then matched HP’s offer the following morning. Determined to show Dell exactly who was the Baddest on the Block, HP offered $30 a share two-and-a-half hours after Dell's bid. Both sides cooled their heels over the weekend, and with rumours of Dell readying to up its bid yet again, HP today jacked up its offer to $33 a share, effectively bidding against itself.
In the midst of all this, HP announced a buyback program to repurchase $10 billion of its shares.
Oh, did I mention that HP does not have a CEO? Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned on August 6 amidst sexual harassment allegations, though both he and the alleged accused denied the charges, which then morphed into accusations that Hurd abused his expense account. So HP has been engaged in a frenzied auction with nobody at the helm.
This frenzied bidding tells me that both companies are saying “We have no growth left so we are willing to crazily bid for a company that the market did not rate three weeks ago.”
HP closed at $39.69 on Thursday. Dell closed at $12.36. Ten years ago, HP traded at $62.50, Dell at $43.
Neither will be found in the Toro Portfolio anytime soon.