Dell and Palm – Who needs whom?
When Dell hired Motorola’s cell phone president Ron Garriques in 2007, the talk was that the PC giant was preparing to enter the smartphone market.
More than two years later, Dell is still without a handheld gadget.
Instead of trying to build its own smartphone, Dell should simply acquire Palm, said Collins Stewart analyst Ashok Kumar in a note to investors on Friday.
Kumar posits that a Dell acquisition of Palm would help both companies, giving Dell a hot new product in Palm’s recently-released Pre, while giving Palm the deep pockets necessary to hang with the big guys.
“This acquisition will be born out of mutual necessity and represent a strategic fit for both parties,” wrote Kumar in a note to investors.
Palm’s Pre has received good reviews, but there are concerns that Palm’s supply of the new gadgets may be constrained amid stiff competition from the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry.
With only $260 million in cash, Palm doesn’t have the balance sheet to go through an extended period of cash burn as it ramps its production of Pre phones to the level necessary for it to become a force in the market, wrote Kumar.
Meanwhile, Dell, which has repeatedly stated its intention to acquire outside companies, has more than enough cash to grab Palm. Kumar said Dell could afford to spend up to $3 billion, or a third of its gross cash, on an all-cash transaction and that Palm falls well below that threshold.
Writing on the Barron’s Tech Trader Daily blog, Eric Savitz cites another benefit from such a deal: newly-appointed Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple executive, could be just the guy to take the reins from Michael Dell.
“An ex-Apple exec at the helm of Dell is an intriguing idea, no?” wrote Savitz.