DealZone

Pricey Palm attracts attention

September 24, 2009

If you want to take a bite out of Apple’s piece of the staggeringly huge (but difficult to quantify in $$$ terms) smartphone market pie, you’d better either have the magical new “thing” or be willing to spend to buy it.

As Anupreeta Das reports, Palm – one of the stalwart originals in the mobile handset space — has remade itself into a terrific target with the success of its Pre. Palm’s stock got a jolt this week on talk that Nokia could be considering a bid. But as she explains, Palm may prove to be too pricey a purchase, even for those with deep pockets.

Since introducing the Pre, Dell, Microsoft, Nokia and Motorola have been mentioned as possible suitors. If one of these cash-rich companies was to bid for Palm today, it would be targeting a stock that has quadrupled this year. Complicating matters, “details on how many units it has sold are skimpy, making it difficult to value the success of Palm’s turnaround story,” she reports.

Palm’s market capitalization is $2.4 billion. Based on the average 34 percent premium that technology, media and telecommunications companies have been sold for this year, according to Thomson Reuters data, this means a price tag of about $3.2 billion.

Dell is already in the early stages of buying up Perot Systems, but will still have nearly $7 billion in cash on hand should it choose to go on a spree. Microsoft, while a cagey customer, as shown in its dealings with Yahoo, has buckets more. For big tech players, the price itself is not the problem.

“To them, Palm is a thousand-dollar used model locomotive. Now you have to buy the other cars, and the tracks, and fake trees, etc. You have enough to pay for it, but you don’t even know if it works properly,” said a guy here at Reuters when the subject was being kicked around.

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